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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1846, 

By George Hood, 
the Clerk's office of the District Court of Massachusett 

E S T o n : 



Every one desires to know something of the 
history of the art or science in which he is inter- 
ested. Divest architecture, or any one branch of 
the natural sciences of its history, and you take 
away the prime part of all that can interest. So 
music, if you leave its history unwritten and unread, 
becomes the mere plaything of the. present, instead 
of the dignified and venerated subject that has been 
favored by princes and sages, Christians and proph- 
ets, ever since the world began. 

It was this idea that prompted the writer to col- 
lect and arrange the materials for the following 
pages. His success in rinding historical matter has 
far exceeded his anticipations ; and that which he 
supposed would end with the scanty materials for a 



single lecture, has, by much labor, increased to a 

This book pretends only to be a history of psalm- 
ody, and to extend from the settlement of New 
England to the beginning of the present century. 

In preparing this work, it has been the writer's 
constant aim, to give the facts as he found them ; 
and if they seem broken or isolated, it must be re- 
membered that, with such material, it was scarcely 
possible to make a full and consecutive history. 
The matter has been gathered by much labor, 
time and expense from different parts of the Union, 
and frequently in very small portions. The labor 
has been almost incredible. To show something of 
its difficulty, there are six consecutive lines that 
were unfinished more than one year ; and the matter 
of which was gathered at more different times and 
places, than the number of lines, twice told. But 
with all its difficulties, the reader may rely upon the 
truth of the work. It must not, however, be ex- 
pected that such a production should be entirely 
free from error ; yet all who know its difficulties, 
will acknowledge its fidelity. Had the materials all 
been written, though scattered in different libraries, 
much of the present labor would have been saved ; 
and were all the matter that has been written still in 
existence, the history would be far from meagre ; 



or, could that now wasting on dusty shelves, or 
stowed away in garrets, as useless and cumbersome 
lumber, be brought out, much useful information on 
this interesting subject might yet be obtained. 

From the old controversial writers, the author has 
copied freely, preferring their own words to convey 
information, concerning the subjects upon which 
they wrote. When a quotation has been made 
from any book, the authority has been given ; but 
not always in that which was verbal or written, and 
not printed. For the latter kind of information, the 
writer acknowledges his obligation to the late and 
lamented Mr. Holden, of Charlestown, Judge Mitch- 
ell, of Boston, and Rev. Dr. Pierce, of Brookline, 
Mass. ; to the Massachusetts Historical Society, 
and the Boston Athenaeum, for the free use of their 
invaluable libraries : and also to those persons who 
have so politely furnished materials for the biograph- 
ical sketches of their friends. 

In the department of biography, information was 
obtained in part from books, and in part from cor- 
respondence and conversation with individuals. 
The information concerning the earlier biographies 
was obtained mostly from the writings of Cotton 
Mather, D. D., and from Allen's and Elliot's Bio- 
graphical Dictionaries. 

The writer fondly hopes that this subject wili 


not be deemed unworthy of attention. All things 
must have their beginning ; and this, though small, 
is important. We know that our music was mean ; 
but as we hope not to have a low seat among the 
nations, and as we hope in future to have a history 
of the art worth preserving, we would not lose the 
past, but gather it carefully up, and set it with the 
future, that the contrast may appear the more 
bright and beautiful. If the music was mean we 
must not deem it unworthy of notice ; and if the 
composers were ignorant, we must not judge them 
by our standard of right. They had not the means 
of studying the science critically, as we have, and 
the people for whom they wrote were far from being 
fastidious. But they lived and labored honorably, 
though in ignorance, and we should respect their in- 

Believing that he has done what he could for the 
advancement of music, and for the encouragement 
of the church, the author presents this work to the 
musical world, as a veritable history of their art, 
and to the christian community, as a work that 
bears upon its pages no small share of the history of 
the church. It will illustrate the fact, that there 
has been no great revival of religion, without a cor- 
responding interest in the improvement of music ; 
and no great improvement in music without an in- 



crease of religion. If, in this work he has awakened 
inquiry, by giving interesting facts to the musical 
world, or words of encouragement to the church, 
he will esteem it his greatest possible success, and 
his very ample reward. 

Philadelphia, January 1st, 1846. 


The history of music in New England, for the first 
two centuries, is the history of Psalmody alone ; 
and this is so intimately connected with the history 
of the church, that he who would fully know the 
one, must understand the other. Between music 
and religion, in the churches of our land, there has 
ever been a beautiful and intimate connection. 
Like the wheels in Ezekiel's vision of the cheru- 
bim, " when they stood, these stood ; and when 
they were lifted up, these lifted up themselves 
also." As religion waned amid the prosperity and 
specious errors of a growing country, so music was 
neglected ; and as it revived, the voice of song was 
renewed. They have ever been reciprocating 
friends. Music has lent her aid, and religion has 
sanctified her services. 

In order to know what the music of the Puritans 
was, we must go back to the history of music in 


England at that time. Metrical Psalmody, it is 
well known, originated with the reformation ; and 
is the offspring of Luther's noble and devoted 
heart. He first used it in public service in the 
year 1517. Luther was a poet and a musician, — 
a man of great learning, refined taste, and possess- 
ing remarkable judgment and foresight. Knowing 
the power of music over the feelings, he used it to 
band together his followers, and inspire them with 
his own zeal. But the deep and ardent piety of 
his heart, could not venture upon the use of music 
indiscriminately. It must have enough of zest and 
enthusiasm in the melody to excite the feelings, 
while the words must be devotional to hallow the 
heart. But such music he found not ; and at once, 
from his energizing mind, he brought forth the 
choral, complete in all its magnificent beauty. A 
melody, free, symmetrical, and full of power, formed 
for the use of congregated thousands, and words 
fraught with the doctrines of the reformation, or 
full of deep and ardent devotion. Perhaps there 
is no better proof of his good taste, sound judg- 
ment, and deep piety, than the style of his music. 
Free in its melody compared with any then in use, 
it partook nothing of the vulgar and irreverent 
lightness of our so-called " revival music," a style 
as hostile to the progress of true religion, as it is 
to the cultivation of good taste. 


Such was the character of the music of the 
reformation in Germany ; and to whatever country 
the reformation was carried, thither also was taken 
its favorite music. 

In England, from the reformation onward to the 
close of Queen Elizabeth's reign, music was much 
cultivated. Every department had able composers. 
But choral music received particular attention. 
Some of the finest specimens of chorals are from 
the English masters. With little change, this style 
prevailed in the churches of England, and was 
brought by the puritans to this country. 

It would be foreign to our design to speak of the 
effort to enlarge and improve the psalmody in the 
churches of England. It must suffice to say, that 
several manuals of Psalmody had been prepared 
before the puritans came to this country, the prin- 
cipal of which were those by Sternhold and Hop- 
kins, and Henry Ainsworth. 

When the puritans came to this country 


in 1620, their manual of Psalmody was a 
small, neat edition of Ainsworth's version of the 
Psalms. This was universally used in the New 


England Colonies, until the New England version, 
or, as it was generally called, " The Bay Psalm 
Book," was completed by the clergy of the colo- 
nies in 1640. 

In a library given by Rev. Thomas Prince, the 
Chronologist, to the Old South Church in Boston, 
(which may now be seen in the rooms of the 
Massachusetts Historical Society,) is a copy of 
Ainsworth, once used in the church at Plymouth. 
On the blank side of the title page is endorsed : 
« T. Prince. Plymouth, May 1, 1732 ; " and ap- 
pended to it, in the chronologist's own hand-wri- 
ting, is this note : " I have seen an edition of this 
version (published) in 1618 in quarto; and this 
version of Ainsworth was sung in Plymouth Colo- 
ny, and I suppose in the rest of N. E. 'till the New 
England version was printed in 1640." In a " Joco 
Serious Dialogue," upon music, written by the 
Rev. Thomas Symmes, of Bradford, Mass., " Con- 
cerning Regular Singing," printed at Boston in 
1723, we find this additional information. " Fur- 
thermore (as is evident from a Psalm Book of 
Elder Chipman's now in my hands,) the Church 
at Plymouth, (which was the first Church in N. E.) 
made use of Ainsworth's version of the Psalms 
until the year 1692. For altho' our N. E. version 
of the Psalms was composed by sundry hands, and 

ainsworth's version. 


completed by President Dunster, about the year 
1640 ; yet that church did not use it, it seems, till 
two and fifty years after, but stuck to Ainsworth ; 
and until about 168*2, their excellent custom was 
to sing without reading the line." 


Ainsworth's 1 version was entitled, i: The Book 
of Psalmes : Englished both in Prose and Metre. 
With annotations opening the words and sen- 
tences, by conference with other Scriptures. By 
Henry Ainsworth.. Eph. 5. 18, 19. Bee yee 
filled with the Spirit ; speaking to yourselves in 
Psalms, and Hymns, and spiritual Songs : sing- 
ing and making melodie in your hearts to the 

In " A Preface, declaring the reason and use of 
this Booke,'' he says, " I have enterprised (Chris- 
tian reader) this work, with regard of Gods honour, 
and comfort of his people ; that his word might 
dwell in us richly, in all wisdom ; and that we 
might teach and admonish ourselves, in Psalmes 
and hymnes and songs spirituall. This I have la- 

1 Rev. Henry Ainsworth was a puritan, and a writer and annotator 
of celebrity, who flourished in England about the year 1600. See 



boured to effect, by setting over into our tongue 
the Psalmes in metre, as agreeable to the originall 
Hebrew, as are other usuall translations. For the 
better discerning hereof, I turned them also into 
prose, and set these versions one by another, to 
be the more easily compared. And because the 
Psalms, have hard words, and phrases ; I have 
added notes to explain them with brevity ; which 
was to me as laborious, as if 1 had made a larger 

This version was printed with the melodies in 
which they were to be sung, placed over the psalms, 
The music was printed in the lozenge or diamond 
shaped note, without bars, and was in the German 
choral style. 

The following psalms are introduced as speci- 
mens of the poetry ; and the first, to exhibit the 
manner in which they were all printed with the 
prose translation. 



1.0 Blessed is the man, 1. O Blessed man, that doth not in 

that doeth not walk, in the the wickeds counsell walk : 

counsell of the wicked, nor nor stand in sinners way ; nor sit 

stand in the way of sin- in seat of scorn ix\\-folk. 
ners : nor sit in the seat of 
the scorn full. 



2. But hath his delight, 2. But setteth in Jehovahs law 
in the law of Iehovah, and . his pleasureful delight 

in his law doeth meditate, and in his law doth meditate, 

day and night. by day and eke by night. 

3. And he shall be as a 3. And he shall he, like-as a tree, 
tree, planted by brooks of by water brooks planted ; 

waters : which shall give which in his time, shall give his fruit 

his fruit, in his time ; and his leaf eke 1 shall not fade ; 

bis leaf shall not fade ; and and whatsoever he shall doe, 

whatsoever he-shall doe, it prosp'rously shall thrive, 
shall prosper. 

4. Not so, the wicked ; 4. Not so the wicked : but as chaff, 
but as the chaff, which the which winde away-doth drive, 
wind driveth it-away. 

5. Therefore the wicked 5. Therefore, the wicked shall not in 
shall not stand up, in the the judgment stand-upright : 
judgment : and sinners, in and in th' assembly of the just, 
the assembly of the just. not any sinfull-wight. 

6. For Jehovah know- 6. For, of the just, Iehovah he 
eth, the way of the just : acknowledgeth the way : 
and the way, of the wicked and way of the ungracious 
shall-perish. shall utterly-decay. 

2. Jah our Lord, how excellent-great is 

thy name in all the earth : thou which hast given 
thy glorious-majesty above the heaven. 

3. From mouth of Babes, and sucklings, thou flrmnes 

foundest ; because of them that thee distress : 

To make the foe, and self-avenger cease. 

4. When I behold thy heav'ns thy fingers deed : 

the moon and Starrs, which thou hast stablished. 

5. What is frail-man that him thou remembresf? 

and Adams Son, that him thou visitest 1 

i Also. 



6. For thou a little lesser hast made him, 

than be the Gods : and crownd him with glory, 
and-eke ivith honorable-decency. 

7. Of thy hand -works, thou gavest him ruling : 

under his feet, thou set didst every-thing. 

8. Sheep and beeves all : and field-beasts with the same. 

9. Fowl of the heav'ns, fish of the sea also : 

that through the path-waies of the seas doth go, 
10. Jah our Lord : how excellent-great-fame 
in all the earth, hath thy renowned-name. 


1. IEhovah feedeth me, I shall not lack. 

2. In grassy folds, he down doth make me lye : 
he gently-leads me, quiet waters by. 

3. He doth return my soul : for his name sake, 
in paths of justice leads-me-quietly. 

4. Yea though I walk in dale of deadly-shade, 
ile fear none ill ; fore with me thou wilt be : 
thy rod thy staff eke, they shall comfort me. 

5. Fore me, a table thou hast ready-made ; 
in their presence that my distressers be : 

Thou makest fat mine head with oynting-oil ; 
my cup abounds. 6. Doubtless, good and mercie 
shall all the dayes of my life follow me : 
also within Iehovahs house, I shall 
to length of dayes, repose-me-quietly. 



2. 0, God for to deliver me : 

Iehovah, to mine helpe make -hast. 

3. They that of my soule seekers be, 

ashamed be they and abasht. 

be backward turnd and blush doe they 

that in mine evill take delight. 

4. Let them turne-backe, ha, ha, that say ; 

their bashfull-shame for to requite. 

5. Ioy let them and rejoyce in thee, 

all that thee seeke : and let them say 
that thy salvations lovers bee, 
God magnified be, alway. 

6. And I afflicted am and poore, 

O, God to me make speedy way : 
mine help and my deliverer 
thou art ; Lord doe not delay. 


1. Showt to Jehovah, all the earth 

2. Serve ye Jehovah with gladnes : 

before him come with singing-mirth 

3. Know that Jehovah he God is : 

Its he that made us, and not wee ; 
his folk, and sheep of his feeding. 

4. with confession enter yee 

his gates, his courtyards with praising 


confesse to him, blesse ye his name. 
Because Jehovah he good is : 
his mercy ever is the same : 
and his faith, unto all ages. 

psalm cxxxiv. 

1. Behold, blesse ye the Lord, 

all ye the Lords servants : 

that in the Lords house stand, by nights. 
3. lift ye up your hands, 

within the holy-place : 
and blesse the Lord doe ye. 
3. The Lord that made the heav'ns and earth ; 
blesse, out of Sion, thee. 

psalm cxxxvu. 

1. By Babel's rivers there sate wee 

yea wept : when wee did mind, Sion. 

2. The wiilowes that amidds it bee : 

our harps, we hanged them upon. 

3. For songs of us, there ask did they 

that had us captive led-along ; 

and mirth, they that us heaps did lay : 

Sing unto us some Sions song. 

4. Jehovahs song how sing shall wee ; 

within a forreyn-peoples land ! 

5. Jerusalem, if I doe thee 

forget : forget let my right hand. 



6. Cleave let my tongue to my palat, 

if I doe not in mind thee bear : 

if I Jerusalem doe not 

above my chiefest joy, prefer. 

7. Remember Lord, to ^Edom's sonns. 

day of Jerusalem : who sa\d, 
rase, rase, to her-foundations, 

8. Daughter of Babel, wastful layd : 

6 blessed he that thy reward 

payes thee, which thou rewardest us, 

9. O blessed he, that takes, and hard 

against the Rock thy babes doth crush. 


The puritan clergy of this country were esteemed 
in England, as eminent for scriptural knowledge, 
piety, and strict adherence to the word of God. 
As early as 1636, there had arrived in the colo- 
nies about thirty ministers, remarkable for their 
learning and piety. In 1640, these had 
composed and published a new version of 
the Psalms. 

In Mather's Magnalia, book iii. p. 100, may be 
found the following account of this work. " About 
the year 1639, the New English Reformers, con- 
sidering that their churches enjoyed the other 
ordinances of Heaven in their spiritual purity, were 



willing that the ordinance of singing psalms should 
be restored among them unto a share in that purity. 
Though they blessed God for the religious endeav- 
ours of them who translated the psalms into the 
metre usually annexed, at the end of the Bible, yet 
they beheld in the translation, variations of, not 
only the text, but the very sense of the Psalmist, 
that it was an offence unto them. Resolving then 
upon a new translation, the chief divines of the 
country, took each of them a portion to be trans- 
lated : among whom were Mr. Welds and Mr. El- 
liot of Roxbury, and Mr. Mather of Dorchester. 
These like the rest were of so different a genius 
for their poetry, that Mr. Shepard of Cambrige, on 
the occasion addressed them to this purpose. 

' You Roxbury Poets, keep clear of the crime 
Of missing to give us a very good rhyme. 
And you of Dorchester your verses lengthen, 
And with the texts own word you will them strengthen,' 

" The psalms thus turned into metre, were printed 
at Cambridge in the year 1640. But afterwards it 
was thought, that a little more art was to be em- 
ployed upon them ; and for that cause they were 
committed unto Mr. Dunster, who revised and 
refined this translation ; and with some assistance 
from one Mr. Richard Lyon, who being sent over 



by Sir Henry Mildway, as an attendant unto his 
son, then a student in Harvard College, and resid- 
ing in Mr. Dunster's house, — he brought it into 
the condition wherein our churches ever since have 
used it." 

The title of this version was, " The Psalms in 
Metre : Faithfully translated for the Use, Edifi- 
cation, and Comfort of the Saints in publick and 
private, especially in New England." 1 — Crown 
Smo, of 300 pages. It was printed in a clear, 
new type, which was probably imported for that 
particular work. 2 The preface is very lengthy ; and 
the same was used for all subsequent editions, both 
in this and in other countries. This first edition 
contains only Psalms, there being no " Spiritual 
songs," or hymns. At the close of the book was 
the following 


" The verses of these psalmes may be reduced 
to six kindes, the first whereof may be sung in very 
neere fourty common tunes ; as they are collected 
out of our chief musicians by Tho. Ravenscroft. 

" The second kinde may be sung in three 

1 This version was known by two names — " The Bay Psalm 
Book; ;5 and sometimes : u The New England Version." 

2 This was the first book printed in the Colonies. 



tunes as Ps. 25, 50 and 67 in our english 'psalm 

" The third, may be sung indifferently, as ps. 
the 51, 100 and ten commandments, in our english 
psalme books, which three tunes aforesaid, com- 
prehend almost all this whole book of psalmes, as 
being tunes most familiar to us. 

" The fourth as ps. 148, of which there but 
about five. 

" The fift. as ps. 112 or the Pater noster of 
which there are but two, viz. 85, and 138. 

H The sixt. as ps. 113, of which but one, viz. 

The following specimens will serve to illustrate 
the style of versification. 


Psalm 1. By Elliot, Weld and Mather. 

1.0 Blessed man, that in th' advice 
of wicked doeth not walk : 
nor stand in sinner's way, nor sit 
in charge of scornfull folk. 
2. But in the law of Iehovah, 
is his longing delight : 
and in his law doth meditate 
by day and eke by night. 


*3. And he shall be like to a tree 

planted by water-rivers : 
that in his season yields his fruit, 

and his leafe never withers. 
And all he doth shall prosper well. 

4. The wicked are not so : 

but they are like vnto the chafFe, 
which winde drives to and fro. 

5. Therefore shall not vngodly men, 

rise to stande in the doome, 
nor shall the sinner's with the just, 
in their assemblie come. 

6. For of the righteous men, the Lord 

acknowledgth the way : 
but the way of vngodly men, 
shall vtterly decay. 

Psalm 23. By Elliot, Weld and Mather. 

1. The Lord to mee a shepheard is, 

w r ant therefore shall not I 

2. He in the folds of tender grasse, 

doth cause me downe to lie : 

To waters calme mee gently leads 

3. Restore my soule doth hee : 

he doth in paths of righteousnes : 
for his names sake leade mee. 

4. Yea though in valley of deaths shade 

I walk, none ill I'll feare : 
Because thou are with mee, thy rod, 
and starTe my comfort are. 


5. Fore me a table thou hast spread, 

in presence of my foes : 
thou dost anoynt my head with oyle, 
my cup it over-flowes. 

6. Goodnes and mercy surely shall 

all my dayes follow mee : 
and in the Lords house I shall dwelle 
so long as dayes shall bee. 

Psalm 133. By Elliot, Weld and Mather. 
A Song of degrees, of David. 

1. How good and sweet to see, 

i'ts for bretheren to dwell 
together in unitee : 

2. It's like choice oyle that fell 

the head upon 
that downe did flow 
the beard unto 

beard of Aron : 
The skirts of his garment 
that unto them went down : 

3. Like Hermons dews descent, 
Sions mountaines upon, 

for there to bee 
the Lords blessing 
life aye lasting 

commandeth hee. 



Psalm 134. By Elliot, Weld and Mather. 

1. all yee servants of the Lord, 

behold the Lord bless yee : 
yee who within Iehovahs house 
i'th night time standing bee. 

2. Lift up your hands, and blesse the Lord, 

in's place of holines. 

3. The Lord that heav'n and earth hath made, 

thee out of Sion bless. 

In 1647, a second edition was printed 
with the same title and preface as the first. 
To this a few " spiritual songs " were added, as 
" The Song of Deborah/' David's Elegy, &c. ; 
and many typographcial errors of the first edition 
were corrected. 


" After the second edition was published, the 
rev. Henry Dunster, president of Harvard College, 
and a master of Oriental languages, mr. Richard 
Lyon, educated at a University in Europe, were 
appointed a committee further to revise and im- 
prove the Psalms, which service they performed in 
two or three years ; when another edition was 
published, with the addition of other scriptural 



Songs." " Thomas's Hist. Printing," p. 233 j also 
" Mather's Magnalia." 

In 1650, this revised edition was published 
with the following title : " The Psalms 
Hymns and Spiritual Songs of the Old and 
New Testament, faithfully translated into Eng- 
lish Mertre, For the Use, Edification and Com- 
fort of the Saints in publick and private, espe- 
cially in New England. 2 Tim. 3, 16 and 17. 
Col. 3, 16. Eph. 5, 18, 19. James 5, 13." 
8vo. 308 pages. 

From this time it passed through edition after 
edition, under many different forms, but without 
any other alteration, till it was revised, in 1758, 
by the Rev. Thomas Prince. It was reprinted in 
England, in at least eighteen editions, 1 and was 
preferred there, and in Scotland, by some eminent 
congregations even as late as 1770. See the 
Preface of Prince's edition. 

In Scotland it passed through twenty-two edi- 
tions, the twenty-second being printed in the year 
1756. The writer has seen three editions pub- 
lished at Edinburg, by Alexander Kincaid, his 

1 "The Bay Psalm Book, 17th edition," was printed at London, 
"by J. H. for T. Longman, at the Ship, in Pater Noster Row, 
1737;" and the "18th edition, London, 1754," by the same pub- 


Majesty's printer: the eighteenth, in 1738, the 
twenty-first, in 1756, and twenty-second, in 1759. 
These had the preface of the American edition 
prefixed ; and were bound up with an edition of 
the Bible by the same printer. 

As an example of the poetry of this improved 
edition, we give the 1st, 23d, and 137th Psalms. 
And here we would say, let not the reader wonder 
at the Vandal-like style of the poetry in this, and the 
previous examples. Sacred lyrics at that day, 
were, one might think, transposed to see how far 
they could be driven from their natural order. 
This work, however, is a great improvement upon 
that of Ainsworth, yet, he was a scholar, a writer, 
a critic, and produced a work, as a whole, vastly 
superior to those of his predecessors, Seager, 
Sternhold and Hopkins, and others. 


Psalm 1. Improved by Dunster and Lyon. 

1. blessed man that walks not in 

th' advice of wicked men 
Nor standeth in the sinner's way 
nor scorners seat sits in. 

2. But he upon Jehovah's law 

doth set his whole delight : 
And in his law doth meditate 
Both in the day and night. 


3. He shall be like a planted tree 
by water brooks, which shall 
In his due season yield his fruit, 

whose leaf shall never fall : 
And all he doth shall prosper well. 
4. The wicked are not so : 
But they are like unto the chaff, 
which wind drived to and fro. 

5. Therefore shall not ungodly men 

in judgement stand upright. 
Nor in th' assembly of the just 
shall stand the sinfull wight. 

6. For of ye righteous men ye LORD 

acknowledgeth the way : 
Whereas the way of wicked men 
shall utterly decay. 

Psalm 23. Improved by Dunster and Lyon. 

The Lord to me a sheperd is, 

want therefore shall not L 
He in the folds of tender grass, 

doth make me down to lie. 
He leads me to the waters still, 

Restore my soul doth he ; 
In paths of righteousness, he will 

for his name's sake lead me. 

In valley of death's shade although 
I walk, I'll fear none ill : 

For thou with me thy rod, also, 
thy staff me comfort will. 


Thou hast 'fore me a table spread, 

in presence of my foes : 
Thou dost anoint with oil my head, 

my cup it over-flows. 

Goodness and mercy my days all - 

shall surely follow me : 
And in the Lord's house dwell I shall 

so long as days shall be. 

Psalm 137. Improved by Dunster a.nd Lyon. 

By water floods of Babylon 

there have we sitten down : 
Yea there we mourned, when as we 

did Sion think upon. 
Our harps in midst of her we did 

hang willow trees among. 
For there they us who captive led 

required of us a song : 

Who laid us waste, askt mirth, sing us 

a Sion's song do ye. 
How in a land of strangers sing 

Jehovah's song shall we? 
O, thou Jerusalem, if I 

of thee forgetful be : 
Then let my right hand quite forget 

her own dexterity. 

If I thee mind not, let my tongue 

not from my palat move : 
If I set not Jerusalem 

my chiefest joy above. 



The design of the versifiers of the Bay Psalm 
Book, was to produce a metrical translation, nearer 
to the original than those then in use. In this 
they succeeded. Theirs was a literal translation. 
Many similar attempts had been made before, but 
no one had proved so successful. Their numbers 
were generally worse, while they had more viola- 
tions of the text ; and this, to our Puritan fathers, 
was the fault of faults. This work, as a faithful 
translation, was highly esteemed, both in England 
and Scotland, and was reprinted in each in large 
and frequent editions. In Scotland it was pub- 
lished by his Majesty's printer ; and large numbers 
were bound up with the Bible, and sold in this 
country. The writer has seen many copies from 
one hundred to one hundred and fifty years old. 
Editions of the Scotch reprint are common. 
„ Its faults, as a metrical version, designed to be 
sung, were many and palpable. But, at that day, 
it had no rival ; and is it venturing too much to 
say, that under the same restrictions, it could have 
few, if any, now ? — Theirs was indeed a difficult 
task — a close literal translation, in measure and 
in rhyme! We venture the assertion, that no 
one, with those requirements has equalled it. 1 

> This translation has been considered by a Hebraist, as equal 3 if 
not superior to, the version in the Bible. 



Those who made more pleasing numbers, fell far 
short of their conformity to the text ; while those 
who made the smoothest and most desirable num- 
bers, have merely paraphrased, imitated, or drawn 
their subjects from the Bible. Watts is but a para- 
phrase. Addison's beautiful samples in the lines 
beginning, " The spacious firmament on high," 
and " The Lord my pasture shall prepare," of 
what he intended, and of what he could have pre- 
pared so ably, namely, a complete metrical version 
of the Psalms, were but a free translation or para- 

In this work there was little variety of measure, 
though more than in any previous version. The 
principal metres were the Short, Common, Long, 
and Tens. The 10s are regular iambics, of which, 
a few specimens have stanzas of five lines each. 
Some of the psalms were of immoderate length, 
containing sixty, seventy, a hundred, and even one 
hundred and thirty lines. These were sung at 
one standing, 1 though sometimes occupying a full 
half hour. The hundred and fifty psalms divided 
as they were, made about two hundred and fifty 
parts ; and of these only twenty-five*, or one in ten, 
was any other than Common, or the metre. Of 

1 In those days, they performed their highest devotional act 
standing 1 . 



these twent/-five, some half dozen were written in 
the Hallelujah metre, or four lines of six, and four 
of four syllables. The remaining eighteen or 
twenty were mostly in Long metre. 

The lines had great license in regard to quantity, 
some containing more, and some less, than they 
should. This defect, they easily remedied in sing- 
ing, by contracting or lengthening a word, as in 
the following examples. 

" Pth' city of the Lord of Hosts." 
" This is the Lord on whom we had 
Our expectation ; 
We will rejoice, and will be glad 
In his salvation." 

Hymn of Isaiah, Chap. 25. 

See also the Song of Moses, which, as also the 
above, would be measured. 

" Iah is my strength and song, and he 
Is my sal-va-ti-on ; 
He is my God and I'll prepare 
an hab-i.-ta-ti-on." 

The few hymns that they had, as a supplement 
to the Psalms, were no doubt, to them more 
pleasing and devotional than we can well imagine. 
But at this day, with our improved lyrics, we could 
hardly deem it possible that such specimens as the 



following, could ever have been used for devo- 
tional purposes. 

V Jael the Kenite, Hebcrs wife 

'bove women blest shall be 
Above the women in the tent 

a blessed one is she. 
Pie watei ask'd, she gave him milk : 

in lordly dish she fetch'd 
Him butter forth : unto the nail 

she forth her left hand stretch'd : 

Her right hand to the workman's maul 

and Sisera hammered : 
She pierc'd and struck his temples through, 

and then cut off his head. 
He at her feet bow'd, fell, lay down, 

he at her feet bow'd where 
He fell : whereas he bowed down 

he fell distroyed there." 
A part of the " Song of Deborah and Barak. 19 

This version, though made by the sanction of 
the church, was opposed by not a few. Among the 
early settlers of the colonies, there was much dif- 
ference of opinion concerning the matter of sing- 
ing. 1 Some believed, that Christians should not 

1 We copy the following extract from the "Encyclopedia of Reli- 
gious Knowledge," just to show that the same difficulties existed in 
England ; and it was probably these that made the Westminster 
Assembly, not only insist upon the duty, but even provide for the 



sing at all, but only praise God with the heart. 
Others believed it right to sing, but thought it 
wrong to sing the Psalms of David. Some believed 

wants of their churches by giving- them a new version of the Psalms, 
which was prepared by one of their number, Mr. Rouse, whose name 
the version still bears : — 

" A curious controversy on this subject arose among the Dissenters 
in the end of the seventeenth century. Whether singing in public 
worship had been partially discontinued during the times of perse- 
cution to avoid informers, or whether the miserable manner in which 
it was performed gave persons a distaste to it, so it appears, that in 
1691, Mr. Benjamin Keach published a tract, entitled, " The Breach 
Repaired in God's Worship : " or, Psalms, Hymns, &c. proved to be 
a Holy Ordinance of Jesus Christ." To us it may appear strange 
that such a point should be disputed ; but Mr. Keach was obliged to 
labor earnestly, and with a great deal of prudence and caution, to 
obtain the consent of his people to sing a hymn at the conclusion of 
the Lord's Supper. After six years more, they agreed to siug on the 
Thanksgiving days ; but it required still fourteen years more before 
he could persuade them to sing every Lord's day; and then it was 
only after the last prayer, that those who chose it might withdraw 
without joining in it ; nor did even this satisfy these scrupulous con- 
sciences ; for, after all, a separation took place, and the inharmonious 
seceders formed a new church in Maze Pond, where it was above 
twenty years longer before singing the praises of God could be en- 
dured. It is difficult at this period to believe it; but Mr. Ivimey 
quotes Mr. Crosby, as saying, that Mr. Keach's was the first church 
in which psalm singing was introduced. This remark, however, must 
probably be confined to the Baptist churches. 

The Presbyterians, it seems, were not quite so unmusical ; for the 
Directory of the Westminster divines distinctly stated, that " it is 
the duty of Christians to praise God publicly by singing of psalms 
together in the congregation." And besides the old Scotch psalms, 
Dr. John Patrick of the Charterhouse, made a version, which was in 
very general use among Dissenters, Presbyterians, and Independents, 

cotton's tract. 


it wrong for any but Christians to sing : and others 
thought one only should sing, while the assembly 
should join in silence, and respond Amen. 


To meet these differences of opinion the Rev. 

John Cotton in 1647 published a treatise on 

. , . 1647. 
singing, entitled, 

" Singing of Psalms a Gospel ordinance : Or 
a treatise wherein are handled these four particu- 
lars. I. Touching the duty itself II. Touching 
the matter to be sung. III. Touching the singers. 
IIII. Touching the manner of singing. By John 
Cotton, Teacher of the Church at Boston in New 

The design of this work was to meet the objec- 
tions to the use of a metrical translation of the 
Psalms ; and to prepare the way for the Bay Psalm 
Book, then about to be published, as revised by 
President Dunster. It considered the duty, the 

before it was superseded by the far superior compositions of Dr. Watts . 
These psalms, however, like those of the English and Scotch estab- 
lishment, were drawled out in notes of equal length without accent 
or variety. Even the introduction of the triple-time tunes, probably 
about the time of Dr. Watts's psalms, gave also great offence to 
some people, because it marked the accent of the measure. Old 
Mr. Thomas Bradbury used to call this time " a long leg and a short 


cotton's tract. 

matter, the singers, and the manner of singing. 
His first point was to prove the duty of audible 
singing. The reason for this was, that at that time, 
there were those who believed that the scriptures, 
intended nothing more by the word singing, than 
thankfulness and joy of heart. Hence he says : 
" For the first Question, wee lay downe this con- 
clusion for a Doctrine of Truth : That singing of 
Psalms with a lively voyce, is an holy Duty of 
God's Worship now in the dayes of the New Tes- 
tament. When we say, singing with lively voyce, 
we suppose none will so farre misconstrue us, as to 
thinke wee exclude singing with the heart ; For 
God is a Spirit : and to worship him with the voyce 
without the spirit, were but lip-labor : which (being 
rested in) is but lost labour (Isa. 29. 13,) or at 
most, profiteth but little, 1 Tim. 4. 8. But this 
wee say, As wee are to make melody in our hearts, 
so in our voyces also. In opposition to this, there 
be some Antipsalmists, who doe not acknowledge 
any singing at all with the voyce in the New Tes- 
tament, but onely 1 spirituall songs of joy and com- 
fort of the heart in the word of Christ." His 
proofs were : — 

1. " The commandments of the Lord by Paul." 

1 It was customary in those days to spell this word with the c; 
now we leave it out, forming the contraction "onfy." 

cotton's tract. 


•2. u The examples of Christ himself, and of his 
Saints and Deciples in the New Testament." 

3. " The Prophecies of the Old Testament, fore- 
telling and perswading such a dutie in the New. 

" The second Question about singing of Psalms, 
concerneth the matter of the Psahnes to be sung , 
for there be some who do not scruple singing with 
the voyce (as the former sort did) but singing of 
the Psalmes of David now in these dayes of the 
New Testament. As conceiving Davids Psalmes 
were penned for Temple worship, during the Peda- 
gogy of the Old Testament. But now in the dayes 
of the New Testament when God hath promised 
to powre out his Spirit upon all flesh, now the 
whole worship of God should be carried on, not 
by set formes of Psalmes (no more than by set 
formes of prayer) but by personall spirituall gifts, 
whereby some one or other of the members of the 
church, having received a Psalme by the endite- 
ment of the Spirit, he singeth it openly in the pub- 
lique Assembley of the Church, and the rest of the 
bretheren say Amen to it in the close." 

" But touching the persons of those who should 
sing, it pertaineth to the third Question. This 
second Question chiefly concerneth the matter to 
be sung, whether the Psalmes of David, or some 
Psalme or Hymne, endited by personall gift of this 


cotton's tract. 

or that member of the Church. Wherein we hold 

and believe ; 

1. " That not onely the Psalmes of David, but 
any other spirituall songs recorded in Scripture, 
may lawfully be sung in Christian Churches, as the 
song of Moses and Asaph, Heman and Ethan, 
Solomon and Hesekiah, Habacuck and Zachary, 
Hannah and Deborah, Mary and Elisebeth, and 
the like." 

2. " Wee grant also, that any private Christian, 
who hath a gift to frame a Spirituall Song, may both 
frame it, and sing it privately, for his own private 
comfort, and remembrance of some special! benefit 
or deliverance. Nor doe we forbid the private use 
of any Instrument of Musick therewithall ; So that 
attention to the instrument, doe not divert the heart 
from attention to the matter of the Song. 5 ' 

" Neither doe wee deny, but that in the publique 
thanksgiving of the Church, if the Lord should fur- 
nish any of the members of the Church with a 
spiritual gift to compose a Psalme upon any spe- 
ciall occasion, he may lawfully be allowed to sing 
it before the Church, and the rest hearing it, and 
approving it, may goe along with him in the Spirit, 
and say Amen to it." 

" The reasons for our Faith and Practice are 
these : 1. Taken from the Commandment or exhor- 

cotton's tract. 


tation of the Apostle, Ephes. 5. 19 : Be you filled 
with the Spirit (saith he) speaking to yourselves 
(that is, one to another) in Psalmes and Hymnes 
and Spirituall Songs, singing and making melo- 
dy in your hearts to the Lord. To the like pur- 
pose is his commandment and exhortation to the 
Colossians, chap. 3, ver. 16. Let the word of 
Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching 
and admonishing one another, in Psalmes and 
Hymnes and Spirituall Songs, singing with 
grace in your hearts to the Lord. In both which 
places, as the Apostle exhorteth us to singing, so 
he instructed! us what the matter of our Song 
should be, to wit, Psalmnes, Hymes and Spirituall 
Songs ; Now those three be the very Titles of the 
Songs of David, as they are delivered to us by the 
Holy Ghost himselfe ; some of them are called 
Psalmes, some Hymnes, some Spirituall Songs. 
Now what reason can be given why the Apostle 
should direct us in our singing to the very titles of 
Davids Psalmes, if it w r ere not his meaning that 
we should sing them ? Yea, either wee must ex- 
clude the Psalmes of David from the name of 
Psalmes, and Hymnes, and Spirituall Songs ; or 
else we must be forced to acknowledge, that we 
are exhorted to sing them, as well as any other." 
Here follow a long list of objections to the use 


cotton's tract. 

of the Psalms in Christian worship ; with also their 
appropriate answers. 

The second argument in favor of using the 
Psalms of David, was taken from their end, and 
use. He says : — 

" The Psalms of David and Asaph, and the like, 
were written for a threefold end, as we see ex- 
pressed by the Apostle, Col. 3. 16, to wit: 1. For 
Instruction, or Teaching. 2. For Admonition. 
3. For Singing Praise and Thanksgiving to the 

" Now if the Psalms of David, and the like, 
were written (as doubtlesse they were) in the Old 
Testament for this threefold end, and each of them 
for morall (that is, for generall, and perpetuall use) 
and none of them abrogated in the New Testa- 
ment, look then, as it would be a sacrilegious sinne, 
to take away from the Psalms either of the two 
former uses (the use of Instruction, or Admoni- 
tion ;) so it will be alike sacriledge to deprive them 
of the threefold use, by forbidding them to be sung 
for praise and thankesgiving to the Lord. Whereto 
a third Argument may be added, taken from the 
dutie of singing Psalmes every Sabbath, and the 
defect of provision of other Psalmes, if the Psalmes 
of David, and other Scripture Psalmes be refused." 

" The third Question about Singing of Psalmes, 

cotton's tract. 


concerneth the Singers. For though vocall sing- 
ing be approved, and also the singing of Davids 
Psalms, yet still it remaineth to some a question, 
who must sing them. And here a threefold scruple 
arriseth, 1. Whether one be to sing for all the rest, 
the rest joyning onely in spirit, and saying Amen ; 
or the whole Congregation ? 2. Whether women, 
as well as men ; or men alone ? 3. Whether car- 
nall men and Pagans may be permitted to sing with 
us, or Christians alone, and Church-Members." 

As it regards the first scruple, he argued that 
all should sing ; with liberty for one to sing a psalm 
written by himself, while the church should respond 

" The second scruple about Singers is, Whether 
women may sing as well as men. For in this 
poynt, there be some that deale with us, as Pharaoh 
dealt with the Israelites, who though he was at first 
utterly unwilling that any of them should goe to 
sacrifice to the Lord in the Wilderness, yet being 
at length convinced that they must goe, then he 
was content the men should goe, but not the women. 
Ex. 10. 11. So here, some that were altogether 


against singing of Psalmes at all with lively voyce, 
yet being convinced, that it is a moral! worship of 
God warrented in Scripture, then if there must be 


cotton's tract. 

a Singing, one alone must sing, not all, (or if all) 
the men onely, and not the women. 

" And their reason is. 1. Because it is not per- 
mitted to a woman to speake in the Church, 
1 Cor. 14, 34, how then shall they Sing? 2. 
Much lesse is it permitted to them to prophecy in 
the Church 1 Tim. 2, 11 & 12. And singing of 
Psalmes is a kinde of Prophecying." 

" The third scruple about the Singers remain- 
eth, Whether carnall men and Pagans may be per- 
mitted to sing with us, or Christians alone, and 
Church-members ? 

" What we believe on this poynt, may be sum- 
med up in these three particulars. 

1. " That the Church and the members thereof 
are called to sing to the Praises of God and to their 
mutuall edification : For they were Churches of 
Christ, and members of Churches whom the Apos- 
tle exhorteth to speake to themselves, and make 
melody to the Lord with Psalms and Hymns and 
spirituall songs. Eph. 5. 19. Colos. 3. 16. 

2. " That the praising of God with Psalmes is 
comely for all the upright, whether received into the 
Fellowship of any particular visible Church, or no. 
For so much the words of David hold forth, 
Praise is comely for the upright. 

3. " Though spirituall gifts are necessary to 

cotton's tract. 


make melody to the Lord in singing ; yet spirituall 
gifts are neither the onely, nor chiefe ground of 
singing ; but the chiefe ground thereof is the 
morall duty lying upon all men by the commande- 
ment of God : If any be merry to sing Psalmes. 
Jas. 5, 13. As in Prayer, though spirituall gifts 
be requisite to make it acceptable ; yet the dutie of 
prayer lyeth upon all men by that Commandement 
which forbideth Atheisme ; it is the foole that 
saith in his heart There is no God ; of whom it 
is said, they call not upon the Lord, Ps. 14, 1-4. 
Which also may serve for a just Argument and 
proofe of the point." 

1 . " If by the Commandment of God, and indeed 
by the light of Nature, all men be bound to piay 
unto God in their distresses, (as even Jonahs Mar- 
riners will confesse in a storme, Jonah 1, 6.) then 
all men are likewise bound to sing to the praise of 
God in their deliverences, and comforts ; For the 
word runneth alike levell, Is any afflicted, let him 
pray 1 Is any merry ? let him sing Psalmes. 
Jas. 5, 13." 

His other arguments were drawn from the gene- 
ral commands to sing, from the sovereignty of 
God, and from the greatness and goodness of his 
works in creation and providence. 

On the other hand, the objections were : that 


cotton's tract. 

scripture songs were sung only by the people of 
God — that singing is a public dispensation of the 
Word, and none but the truly pious have a right 
to dispense it — " that if pagans and profane per- 
sons may sing they may prophesy also in Christ's 
spiritual temple " — that a mixed assembly could 
only make confusion — that when the unregene- 
rate sing, they must sing that not suitable to their 
own condition, &c. these being their principal ar- 

" The fourth and last head of Scruples remain- 
eth, touching the manner of singing. 

" 1. Whether it be laivfull to sing Psalmes in 
Meeter devised by men ? 

" 2. Whether in Tunes invented 1 
3. Whether it be lawfull in Order unto Sing- 
ing, to reade the Psalme ? 

" The two former of these Scruples, because 
they stand upon one and the same ground, may 
fitly be handled together. 

" The judgment of the Churches of Christ in 
these Points, is doubtlesse suitable to their Prac- 
tice, That it is lawfull to sing Psalmes in Eng- 
lish Verses (which run in number, measure and 
meeter) and in such grave and melodious tunes, 
as doe well befit both the holinesse and gravitie of 
the matter, and the capacitie of the Singers" 

cotton's tract. 


This proposition he argued on the ground ; that 
if it be right to translate the Hebrew Bible into 
English prose, in order to read, then it is equally 
proper to translate the Hebrew psalms into Eng- 
lish verse to sing. And for the tunes to which 
they objected, he argued, that as it is right to use 
words invented by Englishmen to convey divine 
truth, so it is right to use tunes by them invented, 
for the same purpose. 

The principal objection against the Psalms in 
verse was this : " The Meeter of the late Transla- 
tors, though it come nearer to the Originall, then 
the former Meeters, yet not so neare as the Prose. 
They frame their words and sentences more to the 
Meeter then the Prose. Yea they sometimes 
breake the Attributes of God, and for the verse 
sake put Jah for Jehovah : which is a mangling 
of the word." 

The objections against the tunes were ; that 
they were uninspired — that to sing man's melody 
is only a vain show of art — and that God could 
not take delight in praises when sinful man, or 
" the man of sin," " had a hand in making the 

To the last objection he gives this answer. " God 
delighteth that his will should be obeyed : at least 
he abhorreth that his will should be disobeyed, 


cotton's tract. 

though by sinfull men I. Sam. 15. 22, 23. Since 
God commandeth all men in distresse to call upon 
him, and all men in their mirth, to sing his Praise, 
what is mortall sinfull man, (Dust and Ashes) that 
he should forbid, what God hath commanded ? 
God knoweth how to allow, yea and to reward 
what is his own : when yet he taketh no pleasure 
in the sinfull manner of performance of any Dutie. 
God tooke notice of Ahabs humiliation, and re- 
warded it with respite of temporall judgments, 
though he tooke no pleasure in his sinfull hypoc- 
risie. And yet they that had a hand in making 
Melody of the English Psalmes (whether in old 
England or New) were men of a better spirit 
than Ahab. But I can but marveile, why you 
should put in the man of sinne, as having any 
hand at all, in making this Melody. For neither 
the man of sinne (by whom I suppose you meane 
Antichrist) nor any Antichristian Church have had 
any hand in turning Davids Psalmes into English 
Songs and Tunes, or are wont to make any Melody 
in Singing them, yea they reject them as Genevah 
Gigs ; And they be Cathedrall Priests of an Anti- 
christian spirit, that have scoffed at Puritan-Minis- 
ters, as calling the people to sirig one of Hopkins 
Jiggs, and so Hop into the Pulpit. God keep all 
Anti-Psalmists from the like Antichristian Spirit. 

cotton's tract. 


They that have been in Antichristian Churches can 
tell you, that Popish Churches are not wont to sing 
Davids Psalmes translated into verse in their own 
Country Meeter, but they onely sing the Prose of 
Davids Psalmes in Cathedrall Notes. Which 
how farre yourself close withall, I leave to yourself 
to consider." 

" The last scruple remaining in the manner of 
singing, Concerneth the order of Singing after the 
Reading of the Psalme. For it is doubted by 
some, and concluded by others, that reading the 
Psalmes is not to be allowed in order to singing. 
We for our parts easily grant, that where all have 
books and can reade, or else can say the Psalme 
by heart, it were needlesse then to reade each line 
of the Psalme beforehand in order to singing. But 
if it be granted, which is already proved, that the 
Psalmes to be ordinarily sung in Publique, are 
Scriptme-P salmes, and those to be sung by the 
body of the Congregation ; then to this end it 
will be a necessary helpe, that the words of the 
Psalme, be openly read beforehand, line after line, 
or two lines together, that so they who want either 
books or skill to reade, may know what is to be 
sung, and joyne with the rest in the dutie of sing- 
ing. It is no unwarrentable invention of man, 
brought into the worship of God, to make use of 


puritan's psalmody. 

such meanes, which the light of Nature teacheth 
us, to be either necessary or convenient helpes, 
either to the hearing or understanding of what is 
said in the worship of God." 

This recommendation of reading the psalms — 
" lineing out " — was objected against by many, 
as having no authority in the Scriptures — that the 
Bible prescribed no officer for reading— and that 
the " reading of the Psalme doth hinder the 
melody, the understanding, the affection in sing- 


The following remarks upon the Psalmody of 
this country are taken from " Thomas's History of 
Printing:" see vol. 1, p. 466. They are copied 
because he is generally so very correct in his state- 
ments ; and because he has published an error, 
calculated to lead his readers to believe that other 
versions were used by our Puritan Fathers, beside 
those mentioned in the preceding pages. He says : 

" It had been customary to sing a prose transla- 
tion of the Psalms ; 1 and for this purpose the 

1 There is almost a certainty that no other version than Ainsworth's 
was ever used in the colonies until the New England version was 
published. But if any one was used in one or two of the churches, 
it was Sternhold and Hopkins. The writer, after extensive research 

puritan's psalmody. 


psalms were marked for singing in lines to suit the 
tunes. To accommodate common metre tunes, 
two syllables in every other line were printed in 
black letter/ which were to be omitted when tunes 
of this metre were sung. The minister or deacon 
who read the psalm line by line as it was sung usu- 
ally announced that the syllables in black, were or 
were not, to be omitted. 3 ' Thus : — 

" So spake th' Eternal to my Lord ; 

Sit Thou (entijrOU'tr) at my right hand, 

Until I make thine enemies 

A (COUqUCC^) footstool for thy feet." 

Ps. 110. 

has never so much as seen the most distant allusion to one, except in 
:{ Felt's history of Ipswich,' 1 which says that Steruhold and Hopkins 
was used in the first church in that town. Ainsworth's was far 
enough from good rhythm, to make it prose, if that could do it ; but 
his was written in rhyme. Dr. Cotton Mather published a version 
in blank verse ; but he could not mean that, for he mentions it by 

1 Mr. Thomas is here again wrong. As it regards Common metre, 
it was all common — all the psalms being written in lines of eight 
syllables and six, alternately. They were so written in Ainsworth's 
and in the New England Psaim Book ; and their tunes were written 
so of course. 

And as it regards the " black letter," the only version in which 
that was used, was Dr. Cotton Mather's Psalterium Americanum, or 
version in blank verse mentioned above ; and but few churches used 
this. In this a few psalms, nine, including the 119tb, were thus 
prepared with the Black letter to be sung in Long Metre ; while the 
rest, like all other books, was written in Common Metre. 



For more than a century " The Bay Psalm 
Book " was almost the only work used in the New 
England churches. During that time it passed 
through, nearly if not quite thirty editions. The 
twenty-sixth edition was printed at Boston in the 
year 1744. 

The twenty-seventh edition may be seen in the 
Antiquarian Hall at Worcester, Mass. There is 
no date of the year in which it was published ; but 
it was probably done between the years 1746 and 
1750. This work, including those published in 
Europe, must have passed through at least seventy 


The Psalmody of the church, received early and 
special attention, from our Puritan fathers. The 
Rev. Mr. Symmes in a discourse on " The Reason- 
ableness of Regular Singing ; or Singing by Note/ 5 
says : " It was studied, known and approved of in 
our College, for many years after its first founding. 
This is evident from the Musical Theses, which 
were formerly printed ; and from some writings 
containing some tunes, with directions for singing 
by note, as they are now sung : and these are yet 



in being 1 though of more than sixty years' stand- 
ing." From this it would seem, that in the early 
history of the college, it was a regular study. The 
same author in speaking of the first settlers of New 
England, and their children, says, " There are many 
persons of credit now living, children and grand- 
children of the first settlers of N. E. who can very 
well remember, that their ancestors sung by note, 
and they learned so to sing of them ; and they have 
more than their bare words to prove that they speak 
the truth ; for many of them can sing tunes exactly 
by note, which they learned of their Fore-fathers, 
and they say that they sung all the tunes after the 
same manner ; and these people now sing those 

1 These, with the Theses and many valuable papers and books, 
were burnt with the college library. Had they remained until this 
day, materials for a history of our music would not have been so 
scarce, nor the history itself so meagre. We can, however, submit 
to such accidents ; but when a ruthless hand coolly destroys all that 
connects us with the past, its history, in whatever form, it is thought- 
lessness and ignorance intolerable. A Philosopher's dog, being left 
by accident in his master's study, overturned the lamp, set on fire the 
manuscripts, and destroyed in a moment, the accumulated labor of 
years. The Philosopher seeing the irreparable mischief, only ex- 
claimed : " O, Diamond ! Diamond ! thou knowest not what thou 
hast done ! " This to a brute was a proper exclamation. But when 
we see the devastation that is almost universally made, with old 
books, papers, and records, valuable for their historic information, 
by brutes in human form, what language is harsh enough to denounce 
such impious destruction ? 


tunes most agreeable to note, which have been 
least practiced in the congregation." 

The music used for a long time before the year 
1690, was mostly written in their Psalm Books, 
and had been so from the first using of the Bay 
Psalm Book. The number of tunes thus written 
rarely exceeded five or six. The music was prin- 
cipally taken from Ravenscroft's Collection 1 with 
little or no alteration ; and this was used nearly 
one hundred years. 

From the publication of the New England Psalms 
and Hymns in 1640, for fifty or sixty years, we have 
been able to find no positive information, that any- 
thing was done for the advancement of music. 
The Psalms and Hymns passed through edition 
after edition, as the wants of a growing country 

1 This collection had been published in England in 1618. two years 
before the Pilgrims came to this country. The harmonies being made 
by some of the best musicians in England, it soon became the stand- 
ard work for the churches both in that country and in the colonies. 
These musicians were Thomas Tallis, Dr. John Dowland, Thomas 
Morley, Bachelor of Music, Gyles Farnaby, B. M., Thomas Tomp- 
kins, B. M., John Tompkins, B. M., Martin Pierson, B. M., William 
Parsons, Edmund Hooper, George Kirby, Edward Blanks, Richard 
Allison, John Farmer, Michael Cavendish, John Bennet, Robert 
Palmer, John Milton, Simon Stubbs, Richard Crawford, William 
Harrison, Thomas Ravenscroft, B. M. This work ascribes the com- 
position of the parts of Old Hundred, to Dr. John Dowland. The 
melody is probably German. 



demanded ; but no alteration in the style of the 
version or provision for music was made. 

The " Bay Psalm Book " was not used in 
the church at Salem until 1667. Some diffi- 
culties having occurred in that church, Ainsworth 
was continued up to the above date. The church 
then agreed to use the Bay Psalm Book, in connec- 
tion with Ainsworth, as will be seen by the follow- 
ing extract from the records of the First Church of 
that city. " At a Church Meeting 4th of 5th month 
1667 " or May 4th, " The pastor having formerly 
propounded and given reason for the use of The 
Bay Psalm Book in regard to the difficulty of the 
tunes, and that we could not sing them so well as 
formerly, and that there was a singularity in our 
using Ainsworth's tunes ; but especially because 
we had not the liberty of singing all the Scripture 
Psalm's according to Col. 3. 16. He did now r again 
propound the same, and after several bretheren had 
spoken there was at last, a unanimous consent with 
respect to the last reason mentioned, that the Bay 
Psalm Book should be used together with Ains- 
worths to supply the defects of it." 

The Bay Psalm Book was adopted by the 
First Church in Ipswich about the same time 
as by the church in Salem ; and was used nearly 
one hundred years. 



In the year 1692, the church at Plymouth 


adopted the " Bay Psalm Book ; " and this 
gave rise in that church, if not in others, to the 
custom of' reading the line, as was eighteen years 
before recommended by the Westminster Assembly. 
The following extract is copied from the Church 
Records at Plymouth. In 1685, "May 17, 
the Elder stayed the church after the public 
worship was ended, and moved to sing psalm 130th 
in another translation, because in Mr. Ainsworth's 
translation, which we sang, the tune was so difficult 
few could follow it — the church readily concented 

"June 19, 1692. The Pastor stayed the church 
after meeting and propounded that seeing many of 
the psalms in Mr. Ainsworth's translation, that we 
now sung, had such difficult tunes, that none in 
the church could set, that the church would con- 
sider of some way of accommodation, that we 
might sing all the psalms, and left it to their con- 

" Aug. 7th. At the conclusion of the Sacrament 
the Pastor called upon the church to express their 
judgments about this motion ; the vote was 
this : when the tunes are difficult in the trans- 
lation we use, we will sing the psalms now used in 
our neighbor churches in the Bay ; — not one 



brother opposed this conclusion. The Sabbath 
following, Aug. 14, we began to sing the psalms 
in course according to the vote of the church." 


In 1661, Mr. Elliott had translated the 
Psalms into Indian verse, which was that 
year printed with the New Testament by Mr. Green 
of Cambridge ; and when he had finished the Old 
Testament, they were all bound up together. It 
was entitled : " Wame Ketoohomae Lketoohoma- 
ongash David" 4to. 

The following specimen of this work is : 

Psalm cxvii. 

Waeenomok Maniz wame 

Waeenomokkenaau wame 

miffinninnuog wonk 
2. Ummonaneteaonk miffi 

en kuhhogkanonut 
Wunnomwaonk God michemohtem 

watenomook Maniz. 

Several copies of this work can be seen in the 
Massachusetts Historical Library. It is also in 
many of the great Libraries in England ; but it is 
only an interesting relic of the past which no one 
can, or ever will, read. 




1689. We have the following information 
concerning the music in the Indian churches. 
A letter/ from New England to Her Royal High- 
ness, the Princess of Orange, says : " When the 
Ruler of the Assembly hath finished his prayer, the 
whole congregation of Indians praise God with 
singing ; in which many of them are excelling." 
From this it would seem that they had been 
instructed, and that, most likely, by Mr. Elliot. 
In 1705, Dr. Increase Mather, Dr. Cotton 
Mather, and R.ev. Nehemiah Walter, in a 
letter to Sir William Ashhurst, speak of the 
Indians' " Excellent singing of Psalms, with most 
ravishing melody." And again, " that Jonathan 
George, (an Indian,) set the tune for the Psalm 
and carryed it out most melodiously." In 1687, 
a letter from Dr. In. Mather to Dr. John Leusden, 
Hebrew professor in the University at Utrecht, 
says : " The whole congregation of Indians praise 
God with singing, and some of them are excellent 


About the year 1690, there was for want 
of a proper supply of tunes, a general dulness 

1 This letter may be seen in the Library of Harvard College, 



and monotony in the music of the church. Many 
congregations had scarcely more than three or four 
tunes that they could sing. This great scarcity 
created the necessity of appending music to the 
Psalm Book, which was done about the year 
1690; for Mr. Symmes says in a " Dialogue," 
printed in 1723 : " As to Hackney, or St. Mary's 
it has been pricked " (printed) " in one edition of 
our Psalm Books above these thirty years." The 
edition to which he refers, is probably the first to 
which music was appended. The first we have 
been able to find was printed at Boston in 


1693. There is no doubt, however, from the 
above quotation, that one edition or more in which 
music was printed, preceded this ; and that music 
was printed in this country, as early as 1690. 
The printing of the edition of 1698 is badly done, 
with many errors, and without bars, except to di- 
vide the lines of poetry. Under each note is 
placed the initial of the syllable to be applied in 
singing by note, with other directions for singing. 
The tunes are named, Litchfield, Low Dutch or 
Canterbury, York, Windsor, Cambridge, St. Davids, 
Martyrs, Hackney or St. Marys ; and 100, 115, 
119, 148th Psalm Tunes. They are printed in 
two parts only, and immediately preceding them 
is found 




Some few Directions 

for ordering the voice in Setting these following 
Tunes of the Psalms. 

" First, observe how many notes compass the 
tune is. Next the place of your first note ; and 
how many notes above and below that ; so as you 
may begin the tune of your first note, as the rest 
may be sung in the compass of your and the peo- 
ple's voices, without Squeaking above, or Grumb- 
ling below. For the better understanding of 
which, take notice of the following directions. 

" Of the eight Short Tunes used to four lines 
only, whose measure is to eight syllables on the 
first line, and six on the next ; and may be sung 
to any Psalm of that measure. 

York Tune ) To psalms of Prayer, 
Windsor Tune ) Confession and Funerals. 

" Cambridge Short Tune, to peculiar Psas. — as 
21, 24, 33, 70, 86 first metre, 114, 132. 

" These six short tunes in the tuning the first 
note, will bear a cheerful high pitch, in regard to 
their whole compass from the lowest note, the 
highest is not above five or six notes. 

Oxford Tune 
Litchfield Tune 
Low Dutch Tune 


To Psalms 



St. Davids Tune ) To Psalms of Praise 
Martyrs Tune 5 an< J Thanksgiving. 

" These two tunes are eight notes compass above 
the first note, and therefore begin the first note 

" Of five long tunes following. 

" Hackney Tune — 119 Psa Tune, second 
Metre — These two Tunes begin your first note 
low, for the compass is nine notes, and eight above 
the first note of the tune. 

" 100 Psa. Tune — This one tune begin your 
note indifferent high, in regard you are to fall four 
notes lower than your first pitch note. 

" IK Psa. Tune and 148 Psa. Tune — These 
two tunes, begin your first note low, in regard the 
tune ascends eight notes above it." 

The state of musical knowledge and musical 
skill was such as to demand these directions. In- 
struments were not used ; and they w r ere utterly 
without knowledge as to the degree of pitch indi- 
cated by the letters. Hence these were the best 
directions that could be given ; and they are 
copied to show the state of musical knowledge at 
that time. 



In 1693 an edition 1 of Sternhold and 


Hopkins's version was published at Cam- 
bridge, and was used to some extent in the 
churches. This however, never became a general 
favorite ; yet, in a few instances, it must have 
been used until near the time of the American 
Revolution. Its want of conformity to the origi- 
nal was the principal fault urged against it. In 
this respect it was inferior to either " Ainsworth " 
or the u New England Version ; " but in point of 
smoothness and rhythm, it was perhaps equal, if not 
superior to either. 

As this was considerably used in the Colonies, 
and as it was the first complete version of the 
psalms ever made in English verse, we introduce 
two psalms as a specimen of its poetry. They are 
interesting, as a historic reminiscence, 2 and are 

1 The first edition of Sternhold and Hopkins's version consisted of 
fifty-one psalms, and was published in 1549; and the second, in 

2 When the unhappy Charles fled from Oxford, he threw 
himself upon the army of his countrymen, then encamped before 
Newark. Here, instead of being befriended, he was reproached, and 
insulted to his face. Upon one occasion during public service, one 
of the chaplains after having used harsh language, directed to be 
sung the psalm beginning thus : 

" Why dost thou, Tyrant, boast thyself, 
Thy wicked deeds to praise." 



for that reason selected. They also present a speci- 
men of each of the versifier's poetry. The first is 
by Hopkins and the second by Sternhold. They 
are selected from a work imprinted " John Day, 
London, 1583." 

" Psla. LII. I. H." 

1. Why dost thou, Tyrant, boast thyself, 

thy wicked deeds to praise, 
Dost thou not know there is a God, 
whose mercies last always ? 

2. Why doth thy mind yet still deuise 

such wicked wiles to warp ? 
Thy tongue, untrue, in forging lies 
is like a razor sharp. 

3. On mischief why setst thou thy mind 

and wilt not walk upright : 
Thou hast more lust false tales to finde 
then bring the truth to light. 

4. Thou doest delight in fraude and guile, 

in mischief bloud and wrong : 
Thy lips have learned the flattering style 
0, false deceitful tongue. 

As soon as they had sung it, the king rose and requested the sol- 
diers to sing the psalm, 

11 Have mercy, Lord, on me I pray, 
For men would me devour." 

This was accordingly sung in compassion for his distress, — a dis- 
tress that saw no relief until it was found at the scaffold ordered by 
the High Court of Justice. 


5. Therefore shall God forever confound, 

and plucke thee from thy place : 
Thy seed root out from of the ground, 
and so shall thee deface : 

6. The just when they behold thy fall 

with feare wile praise the Lord : 
And in reproach of thee withall 
cry out with one accord. 

7. Behold the man which would not take, 

the Lord for his defence : 
But of his goods his God did make, 
and trust his corrupt service. 

8. But I an Olive fresh and greene, 

shall spring and spread abroad : 
For why alway my trust hath bene 
upon the living God. 

9. For this therefore will I give praise, 

to thee with hart and voyce 
I will set forth thy name always 
wherein thy saints rejoyce. 

Psal. lvi. T. S. 

1. Have mercy, Lord, on me, I pray 

for men would me devour : 
He flghteth with me day by day, 
and troubleth me each houre. 

2. Mine enemies daily enterprise, 

to swallow me outright ; 
To fight against me many rise 
thou most high of might. 


3. When they would make me most afraid 

with boasts and brags of pride : 
I trust in thee alone for ayde, 
by thee I wil abide. 

4. God's promise I do mind and praise, 

0, Lord I stick to thee : 
I do not care at all afraies, 
what flesh can do to me. 

5. What things I either did or spake 

they wrest them at their wil : 
And all the councel that they take, 
is how to work me il. 

6. They all consent themselves to hide, 

close watch for me to lay : 
To spie my pathes and snares have tide, 
to take my life away. 

7. Shall they thus scape on mischiefe set, 

thou God on them wilt-frown : 
For in his wrath he will not let, 
to throw whole kingdoms down. 

8. Thou seest how oft they make me flee 

and on my tears dost looke ; 
Reserve them in a glass by thee 
and w r rite them in thy book, 

9. When I do call upon thy name 
my foes away do start : 

I w T il perceive it by that same 
that God doth take my part. 
I glory in the word of God 

to praise it I accord 
With joy I shall declare abroad, 
the promise of the Lord. 



11. I trust in God and yet I say 

as I before began : 
The Lord he is my help and stay, 
I do not care for man. 

12. I will perform with hart so free, 

to God my vowes always : 
And I O Lord all times to thee, 
will offer thanks and praise. 

13. My soul from death thou doest defend, 

and keep my feet upright : 
That I before thee may ascend 
with such as liue in light. 

We will give one short Hymn as a specimen of 
that style of Poetry. 

" A Song to bee sung before the Morning Prayer.'' 

1. " Praise yee the Lord yee Gentiles all 

which hath brought you into his light, 
O, praise him all people mortall, 
as it is most worthy and right. 

2. " For he is full ditermined, 

on vs to poure out his mercy ; 
And the Lord's truth be yee assured 
abideth perpetually. 

Glory be to God the Father, 
and to Iesus Christ his true sonne 

With the Holy Ghost in like manner, 
now and at every season." 




About the year 17 the Rev. Mr. Tufts, 

J 1712. 
pastor of the Second Church in Newbury, 

published a musical work, entitled i " A very 'plain 

and easy Introduction to the Art of Singing 

Psalm Tunes : With the Cant us or Trebles of 

Twenty-eight Psalm Tunes, contrived in such a 

manner, as that the Learner may attain the Skill 

of Singing them, with the greatest ease and Speed 

imaginable. By Rev. Mr. John Tufts. Price 6d. 

or 5s. the duz.' ; Having never seen this work, the 

writer is unable to give any account of it, or its 

contents. The only knowledge he has of it, was 

gained from its advertisement, as was customary in 

those days, on the blank page of the Rev. Mr. 

Symmes's discourse, " Concerning Prejudice in 

matters of Religion." 


Mr. Tufts also published another work, the title 
page of which was as follows : " An Introduction 

1 We are sorry that we cannot give the precise date of this work ; 
and hope that this, and many other deficiencies may be remedied by 
those who have the information at hand. We have no doubt that 
copies of this, and the succeeding work are still extant, and can easily 
be found by the friends of music. 



to the singing of Psalm-Tunes ; in a plain and 
easy method ; With a Collection of Tunes in 
three Parts. By the Reverend Mr. Tufts. The 
Eleventh edition. Printed from Copper-plates, 
neatly engraven. Boston N. E. Printed for 
Samuel Gerrish. 1744." 

This work is supposed to have been pub- 
lished as early as 1712 or 14. We could 
hardly expect the editions to come out oftener than 
once in three years upon an average. In addition 
to this, we have the word of a gentleman, who is 
always correct in dates of olden time, that he has 
seen a copy of it dated 1714. 

The work was prepared to be bound up with 
the Bay Psalm Book ; to which was added a 
" Supplement containing other Scripture Songs ; 
placed in order as in the Bible." Of these there 
were fifty-eight pages. 

The " Introduction to the Singing of Psalm- 
tunes," occupies five entire pages. The whole is 
on a new plan, in which letters are used upon the 
staff instead of notes. The letters are the initials 
of the names of the notes. Tims F for faw, is 
used on one and four of the scale ; as S for sol, is 
used on two and five. The time was marked by 
placing one or more points on the right side of the 
letter, " Thus, F : is to be sounded as long as you 



would be distinctly telling One, Two, Three, Four. 
• A letter with but one point (thus F.) is to be 
sounded while you are telling One, Two. A let- 
ter without a point (thus F) only half as long." 
Ex. F: equal to Ot, F. equal to F equal to j^" 

"When you find two letters tied together with 
a bow, (thus FS) they are to be sounded no longer 
than you would be singing a letter without a point." 

But a single example will render it intelligible. 

YORK. C. M. 

oC Cantns. 

1 T ss^s. 

IS. 1 " 

^ Me&iTis. 

(Us IJ vs. 

— ^ — 


t~t? v is in r* 

- > 

" f 5 |[H 

The music was written in three parts only ; and 
was purely choral, which, at that day, was the only 
style used. The collection consisted of thirty- 
seven tunes, and all but one was written in com- 
mon metre. This one, Commandment, is in Long 

The next effort for the improvement of Psalm- 
ody in New England, was in 1718; when 
Dr. Cotton Mather published his 




" The Book of Psalms in a translation 


exactly conformed unto the Original ; but 
all in blank verse. Fitted unto the tunes com- 
monly used in the Church." 

This version has an introduction, at once learned, 
interesting and evangelical. Each psalm is accom- 
panied by illustrations " To assist the Reader in 
coming at the vast Profit and Pleasure, which is 
to be found in this rare part of the Christian Ascet- 
icks, every Psalm is here Satellited with Illustra- 
tions, which are not fetched from the Vulgar 
Annotations, (whereof still, Reader, continue thy 
esteem and thy improvement.) But are the more 
Fine, Deep, and Uncommon Thoughts, which in 
a course of long Reading and Thinking have been 
brought in the way of the Collector. They are 
Golden Keys to Immense Treasures of Truth." 

The Introduction is an essay upon the excellence 
of the psalms, and the manner of the translation : 
and the psalms themselves, a good metrical version, 
without injuring the conformity to the original, 
" for the clink of rhyme." In regard to the exact- 
ness of the translation, our author says : " For the 
New Translation of the Psalms, which is here 
endeavoured, an Appeal may be with much assur- 



ance made, unto all that are Masters of the Hebrew 
Tongue, whether it be not much more agreeable to 
the Original, than the Old one, or than any that 

has yet been offered unto the World It keeps 

close to the Original ; and even when a word of 
supply is introduced, it is usually a needless com- 
pliment unto the care of exactness, to distinguish 
it at all, as we have done, with an Italic-Character ; 
for it is really in the Intention and Emphasis of the 
Original. Yea, the just Laws of Translation had 
not been at all violated, if a much greater Liberty 
had been taken, for the beating out of the Golden 
and Massy Hebrew into a more Extended Eng- 
lish" 1 

It is not a little strange that so good a work 
should have been doomed to such a fate. We have 
not learned that it was ever used ; while some in 
rhyme, though far inferior, have met with favor. 
This, probably, was owing to its being written in 
blank verse. 

It was all arranged in a line of eight, and a line 
of six syllables, 2 alternate, or in " Common Metre," 

1 This version has been commended by a good Hebrician for its 
exactness of translation. 

2 The early metrical composures were nearly all in lines of eight 
and six syllables alternate; hence the name, "Common Metre." 
When they lengthened the second and fourth lines, they called it 
" Long Metre ; " and when they shortened the first, " Short IVfetre." 


Mather's psalms. 

as were nearly all the metrical composures of that 
time. Some of the psalms were arranged for Long 
Metre tunes, by putting two conjoint syllables in 
the second, and in the fourth lines of each stanza, 
in a black letter. These could either be sung or 
omitted without injuring the sense. Hence, such 
psalms could be sung to Long Metre tunes, or 
by omitting the black letter, to Common Metre. 
Psalm 136 was so arranged as to change it from 
Common to Short Metre, by omitting the black 
letter, in the first line. 

At this day it would need changing, to smooth 
its numbers and complete its cadence ; but still, a 
noble contrast will be seen between the commence- 
ment of the Twenty-third psalm in this, and the 
examples from the other books. 

" My Shepherd is th' Eternal God : 
I shall not be in want." 

As an example of this work, we will give the 
following psalms. 

Psalm hi. 

" A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his Son. 11 

1. ETERNAL GOD, how they're increas'd || who greatly 
trouble me 1 \\ How many are the men that stand || in tri- 
umph over me ? || 

mather's psalms. 


2. Many there be who ever are || saying unto my Soul, || 
Ther's no Salvation to be had || for him in God at all. |l 
Selah. || 

3. But now about me thou'rt a shield, || thou ETER- 
NAL GOD, !| Thou art my Glory, and thou art || th' up- 
lifter of my head. || 

4. Unto th' ETERNAL God, I cried, || with my extended 
voice, || And He gave answer unto me || out of His holy 
hill. || Selah. || 

5. I laid me down, and took my sleep ; || and then I did 
awake : || Because that the ETERNAL God || sustain'd 
me all along. || 

6. Tho' there should be ten thousands of || those people who 
do set || themselves against me round about ; |j I will not 
be afraid. || 

7. ETERNAL, rise ; save rne, my God ; || For thou hast 
smitten all || my Foes on the cheek-bone ; Thou hast || 
broken the wicked's teeth. || 

8. Salvation is what does belong || to the ETERNAL 
God ; || On those that are thy People is || thy benediction 
still. || 

i 4 Illustrations on the third Psalm. 

" Singer, Now Meditate on the sufferings of thy SAVIOUR. 
The Fifth Verse evidently mentions His Death and Resur- 
rection. Compare the Third Psalm with the Sixteenth. 

" 2. They thought the Crimes of David past Expiation. 
This is the Jewish gloss upon it. But Old Arnobius invites 
us to consider this Passage, as fulfill'd in the flouts of the 
Jews at our dying Saviour. xAnd all the rest as fulfil I'd in 

" 7. Is here no Allusion to Sampson's Victory ! Was it 


Mather's psalms. 

not literally fulfill'd in the Deaths of Absalom and of Ahito- 
phel ! 

" 8. What? A Blessing wished for such an ungrateful 
People ! Christian, imitate this Goodness ! Compare 
Gal. vi. 16. ? ' 

Psalm tv. 

" To the chief Musician. On Neginoth. A Psalm of David." 

1. Thou God of my righteousness, || hear me when I do 
call : || Thou hast enlarg'd me when I was || in troublesome 
Restraint. || be thou gracious unto me, || and O hear thou 
my prayer. || 

2. Ye Sons of Men, how long shall my || Glory be turned 
to shame'? || How long will you love vanity ; || and how long 
seek a lie ? || 

3. But know, th' ETERNAL sets apart || Ihe pious for 
Himself. || Th' ETERNAL God will hear when I || do call 
to Him for help. || 

4. Be you much mov'd ; but do you not || then any more 
offend. || Commune with your own heart upon || your bed 
and so be still. || 

5. Offer the Sacrifices which || belong to righteousness : |j 
And therewith place your confidence || on the ETERNAL 
God. || 

6. Many there be that say, who || will show us what is 
good ! || O thou ETERNAL God do thou || signally over 
us, || like as a banner, lift the light || of thy bright counte- 
nance. || 

7. Thou hast bestow'd, in doing thus |] a joy upon my 
heart, || more than the time wherein their Corn || and their 
Wine did increase. || 

8. I will both lay me down in peace, || and I will take my 

Mather's psalms. 


sleep ; j| For O ETERNAL, Thou alone || dost make n,e 
dwell secure. || 

We give a part of the 116th Psalm as a speci- 
men of the manner in which several psalms were 
arranged for singing either in Common or in Long 
Metre. This method was invented by Richard 
Baxter ; 1 who translated the Psalms into English 
verse, and arranged a part or all in the manner of 
the following example. 

Psalm cxvi. 

1. I'm full of Love : It is because || [of tins] that the ETER- 
NAL God || hath hearkened now unto my voice; || [anfc 
i)ati)] my supplications heard. || 

2. Because that He hath unto me || [ttfnWi)] inclined Hi3 
gracious Ear ; || therefore upon Him I will call || while I 
have any days [of life]. 

3. The cords of Death surrounded me || and me the 
[ttreaof ul] pains of Hell || found out ; a sad anxiety || I found 
and sighing [i)eab#] grief. || 

4. But I did call upon the Name || of the ETERNAL 
God, [for tins] ; || I pray Thee, O ETERNAL God, | De- 
liver thou my [smiting] Soul. || 

5. Most full of tender clemency || [forebet] is th' ETER- 
NAL God : Righteous He is too; and our God || is most 
compassionate [tottjall]. || 

6. The simple ones th' ETERNAL God || takes into 
[ins iuntJ] custody ; || I was brought miserably low, || and 
then [tt toas] He helped me. || 

1 Author of" The Saint's Rest." 


Walter's singing book. 

7. O thou my Soul, Do thou return || where 'tis [alone] 
thou findest rest ; || Because that the ETERNAL God || 
hath well [enoitaj)] rewarded thee. || 

8. Because thou hast from threatening Death || [safelg] 
delivered my Soul ; || my Eye from tear; my foot from fall || 
by a thrust given [unto] me. II 

This work was divided into five books. 1 The 
first extended to the forty-second psalm ; the 
second, to the seventy-third ; the third, to the nine- 
tieth ; the fourth, to the one hundred and seventh ; 
and the fifth, to the end. At the close there 
were sixteen pages of hymns, all scripture subjects, 
and arranged, like the Psalms, in blank verse. 
This book had no music appended to it, a circum- 
stance that was the more strange, inasmuch as it 
was common to add it to their psalms, and there 
was at that time, great need of music in the colonial 
churches. Had it been well supplied with proper 
music, it might have passed into extensive use 
during the musical reformation that immediately 
followed its publication. 


Three years after the publication of Dr. 
1721. j; r 

Mather's Psalms, or in 1721, the fourth sing- 

1 The Bay Psalm Book and Ainsworth were divided in the same 

Walter's singing book. 


ing book published in this country, was edited by 
Rev. Thomas Walter, of Roxbury, Mass. Previous 
to this, no music had been published in the colo- 
nies, except that appended to the Bay Psalm Book. 
Mr. Walter's book was a small but neat 12mo. 
volume. The music was beautifully engraved ; 
and the printing clear and neat. It bore the title 
of : " The Grounds and Rules of Musick ex- 
plained : Or an Introduction to the Art of 
Singing by JSote : Fitted to the meanest capaci- 
ties. By Thomas Walter, A. M. Recom- 
mended by Several Ministers. ' Let everything 
that hath breath praise the Lord.' Ps. 150, 6. 
Boston : Printed by Benjamin Mecom, at the 
new Printing Office near the Town House : for 
Thomas Johnstone, in Brattle Street" 
Prefixed to this work was the following 

" Recommendatory Preface. 

" An ingenious hand having prepared instruc- 
tions to direct them that would learn to sing 
Psalms after a regular manner : and it being 
thought proper that we should signify unto the 
Publick some of our Sentiments on this occasion : 
We do declare, that we rejoice in good Helps for 
a beautiful and laudible performance of that holy 
Service, wherein we are to glorify God, and edify 


Walter's singing book. 

one another with the spiritual Songs, wherewith he 
has enriched us. 

" And we would encourage all, more particu- 
larly our Young People, to accomplish themselves 
with Skill to sing the Songs of the LORD, ac- 
cording to the good Rides of Psalmody : Hoping 
that the consequence of it will be, that not only 
the Assemblies of Zion will decently and in order 
carry on this exercise of piety, but also it will be the 
more introduced into private Families, and become 
a part of our Family- Sacrifice. 

" At the same time we would above all exhort, 
That the main concern of all may be to make it 
not a meer bodily exercise, but sing with Grace in 
their Hearts, and with Minds attentive to the 
Truths in the Psalms which they sing, and affected 
with them, so that in their Hearts they may 
make a Melody to the Lord." 

Signed, Boston April 18, 1721. 

Peter Thacher Thomas Foxcraft Benj. Wadsworth 

Joseph Sewell Samuel Checkley Benj. Colman 

Thomas Prince Increase Mather Nathaniel Williams 

John Webb Nehemiah Walter Nathaniel Hunting. 
William Cooper Joseph Belcher 

Then follow 

" Some brief and very plain Instructions for 
singing by NOTE." Also 
" Rules for tuning the voice." 



This is the first music printed with bars in 
America. The tunes are composed in three parts 
only ; and are made up of half and whole-notes, 
(minims and semibreves.) The harmony is full, 
rich and correct ; and the whole style, purely 

Mr. Walter's book was noticed in the Boston 
Gazette of May 8, 1721, and duly announced and 
advertised in the same periodical on the 17th of 
July. In April, 1723, the second edition of the 
work, " Enlarged, Corrected and beautified," was 
advertised in the Gazette. From this time it went 
through successive editions for many years, and 
was probably used until supplanted by the publica- 
tions of Bayley, Billings and others, that succeeded 
them. The last edition we have seen was pub- 
lished at Boston in 1764. Whether Mr. Walter's 
or some other book was used, the style of church 
music before Billings's day, was that of his book. 

The price of Mr. Walter's book was " 45. single ; 
and 42«. per doz. Or bound for 56*. single, and 
525. the doz." 

One might almost deem the above-named works 
a superfluity of music ; for singing psalm-tunes, at 
that day, had not become an amusement among 
the people. It was used, as it ever ought to be, 
only as a devotional act. So great was the rever- 



ence in which their psalm tunes were held, that 
the people put off their hats, as they w r ould in 
prayer, whenever they heard one sung, though not 
a word were uttered. 

Singing in parts was scarcely known, and the 
ability to sing three or four melodies constituted 
their whole musical knowledge. Using but few 
tunes in church, and never singing them for amuse- 
ment ; believing that the few they had were as 
sacred as the words, and feeling as little disposed 
to make innovations upon them as upon the text, 
it will easily be conceived that a small amount of 
music would be all their wants would demand. 
These few were repeated over once or twice each 
Sabbath, until their familiarity in the sanctuary was 
even greater than the psalms themselves ; and the 
psalms were sung until they became familiar as 
their household names. In pious families two were 
sung every day in the w 7 eek, and on the Lord's day 
not less than eight, thus repeating each psalm not 
less than six times a year. 


In some churches, being furnished with books, 
they did not read the psalm line by line, but sang 
without, though generally it was " lined out." 



Their psalms were those of the New England ver- 
sion, and they seldom used a hymn. The psalms 
were not selected to suit the preacher's subject, but 
were sung in order ; at least this was the custom 
for one part of the day, and in many congregations 
it was their constant rule. 

The following extract from Dr. Cotton Mather's 
f Church Discipline, or Methods and Customs in 
the Churches of New England," will show how the 

singing was conducted, before the year 1720. 

. 1720. 
The book to which we refer was published at 

Boston in 1726. 

" The former and larger prayer of the pastor 
being finished, then (as Tertullian tells us how in 
his time P salmi canuntur) a Psalm usually suc- 
ceeds. In some, the assembly being furnished with 
Psalm-books, they sing without the stop of reading 
between every line. 

" But ordinarily the Psalm is read line after line, 
by him whom the Pastor desires to do that service ; 
and the people generally sing in such grave tunes, 
as are most usual in the churches of our nation. 
Basil thus mentions the order in the primitive 
churches. First praying, and then singing. 

" It is manifest, from Tertullian, that in the primi- 
tive churches, the Christians used not only hymns 
collected out of the Sacred Scriptures, but such as 



were conceived and composed by themselves, Soc- 
rates mentions the psalms written by Chrysostom ; 
and Eusebius the psalms written by Nepos. Nor 
was it otherwise in the Bohemian churches, of the 
later ages, where they were provided with a Cau- 
tioned of above seven hundred and forty Sacnd 
Songs, besides the Davidical Psalms. But the 
churches of New England admit not into their 
public services, any other than the psalms, hymns 
and spiritual songs of the Old and New Testament, 
faithfully translated into English metre. No : not 
so much as the Te Deum ; an hymn which indeed 
is not mentioned by any Author more antient than 
the rules which old Benet wrote for his Monks, 
about the middle of the sixth century. Nor the 
song of the Three Children, an hymn everywhere 
unmentioned until the fourth council of Toledo, in 
the seventh. In this thing they agree to the act of 
the Laodicean Synod, that no private psalms be 
used in the church. And they almost confine 
themselves unto the limitations enjoined by the first 
synod of Bracara : Let nothing be sung in the 
church, but the psalms of the Old Testament. 

" And if Austin could blame the Donatists, for 
leaving of the psalms of David, and singing Hymns 
of their own invention, it is a point wherein the 
churches of New England have not been hitherto 



blameable. The private families and companies of 
the Faithful among them, indeed have sometimes 
employed what versified portions of Scripture and 
other devout hymns they find for their edification. 

* But when they bless God in their congrega- 
tions, they keep to such psalms, as a Theodoret 
mentions as preferable in the judgment of several 
of the Antients, above any others ; that is to say, 
those in our sacred Psalter, and some other poetical 
paragraphs of the Sacred Scriptures, versified. 

■ The first Planters of New England, were not 
long without a version of the Davidical Psalms, 
and of several other songs in both Testaments, 
made by the united endeavours of several persons. 
In this version the poetry may indeed want refin- 
ing ; yet the nearness and closeness of the transla- 
tion to the Original, may make some amends for 
other defects. These holy psalms, by some con- 
gregations, are sung over in order as they lie ; (at 
least in the psalmody for one part of the day ;) and 
in others, are sung, as the minister singles them 
out, for to accommodate the subjects, and the de- 
signs before him. 

" Their way of singing is not w r ith such disor- 
derly clamours as were condemned by the old 
council of Trullo ; but in such grave tunes, as are 
most used in our nation ; and it may be hoped, not 



without some sense of that which Zonaras gives as 
the reason of the Trullan Condemnation ; the sing- 
ing of psalms is a supplicating of God himself 
wherein by humble prayer ice beg the pardon of 
our sins. Their psalmody is neither set off with 
the delicacies which Austin complained of, nor is 
it rendered unseemly by the exorbitances we find 
rebuked by Chrysostom. It has been commended 
by strangers as generally not worse, than what is 
in many other parts of the world ; but rather as 
being usually according to Origen's expression, 
melodiously and agreeably. However, of later 
times they have considerably recovered it, and re- 
formed and refined it, from some indecencies, that 
by length of time had begun to grow upon it. And 
more than a score of tunes are heard Regularly 
sung in their Assemblies." 


We have now come down through one century 
of our country's history, gathering up such informa- 
tion as we have been able to find, and at this point, 
1721, meet the first direct effort at improving 
' their church music. 
When the Puritans first came to their wilder- 
ness-home, they cultivated music even in their 



College. Their songs of praise were conducted 
with decorum, if not with ability ; and a laudable 
pride, if such can be, inspired them still to improve 
their purity and excellence. This spirit brought 
out the New England version of Psalms, a work, 
as a whole, incomparably better than any version 
that had preceded it. 

But soon after their settlement, the Colonies were 
disturbed by contentions and party strife. Scarcely 
had a score of fleet years sped their flight, before 
errors in doctrine came in to disturb that tranquil- 
lity for which they had sought these shores. Trou- 
bles came upon troubles in rapid succession. The 
genius of discord settled upon the land. There 
was Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, the Qua- 
kers, and Antinomianism, to trouble their religion ; 
the Pequod, King Philip's, and numerous petty 
wars with the Indians, to alarm the land. Their 
charters were several times annulled and restored : 
and oppressive acts, leading to party strife with in- 
surrection, and twice to open war, were passed. 
Witchcraft, and a host of smaller evils, came 
swarming over the land, like the plagues of Egypt. 
Then, not a trouble came upon England, that was 
not felt in the Colonies. Every one's thoughts were 
upon the evils and troubles of the day. It was an 
age of commotion, both in England and in the 



Music dwells not in scenes of contention ; she 
flies the abode of anarchy and confusion, and seeks 
a home in the land of peace. It is there, and there 
only, she dispenses her blessings. 

The few music-books, that had from time to time 
found their way into the Colonies, were rapidly 
decreasing ; and the few they had were unlike. 
The cultivation of music was neglected, until in 
the latter part of the seventeenth, and at the com- 
mencement of the eighteenth century, the congre- 
gations throughout New r England were rarely able 
to sing more than three or four tunes. The knowl- 
edge and use of notes too, had so long been neg- 
lected, that the few melodies sung, became cor- 
rupted, until no two individuals sang them alike. 
Every melody was " tortured and twisted," (embel- 
lished ?) " as every inskillful throat saw fit," until 
their psalms were uttered in a medley of confused 
and disorderly noises, rather than in a decorous 
song. The Rev. Mr. Walter says of their singing, 
that it sounded " like five hundred different tunes 
roared out at the same time ; " and so little atten- 
tion was paid to time, that they were often one or 
two words apart, producing noises " so hideous 
and disorderly, as is bad beyond expression." The 
manner of singing had also become so tedious and 
drawling, that the same author says, " I myself 



have twice in one note paused to take breath." 
The Rev. Mr. Symmes says, in his sermon on Reg- 
ular Singing: " It is with great difficulty that this 
part of worship is performed, and with great inde- 
cency in some congregations for want of skill. It 
is to be feared, singing must be wholly omitted in 
some places, for want of skill, if this art is not 


The declining state of music had been so 
gradual and imperceptible, that the very con- 
fusion and discord was grateful to their ears ; and 
a melody sung in time and tune, was really offen- 
sive. At this stage of affairs, some of the best 
men of the day, seeing the need of reform, re- 
solved to set about the work. This they did ; and 
about the year 1720, several excellent and spirited 
discourses from the best divines, were published 
and scattered among the people. The pulpit, also, 
as it was, and ever is its duty, fearlessly called for 
a better performance of their songs of praise. Such 
men as the Mathers, Edwards, Stoddard, Symmes, 
Dwight, Wise, Walter, Thacher, and Prince, in- 
deed, the best and ablest menT of the Colonies, 
joined heart and hand in the work of reformation. 

One might think, that a duty so obvious and 



practical, would find none but friends to its best 
performance. But it was not so. No sooner had 
the cry for reform been heard, than it was opposed 
by a large party in almost every church, and op- 
posed with a virulence of feeling, and tenacity of 
attachment to their old customs, that seemed to 
defy their best efforts. Objections were urged 
even by serious, and on other subjects, well in- 
formed persons, which, however trifling and pitiful 
they may seem to us, were to them important and 
solemn. The idea of learning to sing by note, or 
to sing a melody correctly, had something in it 
little less fearful in itself, or in its effects, than 
witchcraft and its scenes, through which they had 
just passed. 

Their principal objections were : 

1. That it was a new way; — an unknown 

2. That it was not so melodious as the usual 

3. That there were so many tunes, one could 
never learn them. 

4. That the new way made disturbance in 
churches, grieved good men, exasperated them and 
caused them to behave disorderly. 

5. That it was popish. 

6. That it would introduce instruments. 



7. That the names of the notes were blasphe- 

8. That it was needless, the old way being good 

9. That it was only a contrivance to get money. 

10. That it required too much time to learn it, 
made the young disorderly, and kept them from 
the proper influence of the family, &c. &c. 

With divers such weighty reasons, all of which 
w r ere soberly answered, in a clear and forcible 
manner, by Ptev. Messrs. Symmes, Dwight, Walter, 
Thacher, Danforth, Mather, Stoddard and 
others ; besides those who fully endorsed 
the printed discussions of the subject. Among 
these were names that will be remembered, as 
long as the early history of our country shall be 


Beside the answers to the above objections, a 
tract appeared in 1723, called "Cases of 
Conscience about singing Psalms, briefly 
considered and resolved." This is " An Essay 1 by 

1 Mr. Allen, in his book of American Biography, credits this work 
to the Rev. Solomon Stoddard, of Northampton. And also says that 
it was published in 1722. The copy in the Massachusetts Historical 
Library, bears the date of 1723. But it may be a second edition. 



several ministers of the Gospel, for the satisfaction 
of their pious and conscientious bretheren, as to 
sundry Questions and Cases of Conscience, con- 
cerning the singing of Psalms, in the public wor- 
ship of God, under the present Evangelical consti- 
tution of the Church-state. Offered to their con- 
sideration in the Lord. Printed at the desire of 
Honorable, Reverend and worthy Persons, to whom 
it was communicated, in a venerable Council of 
churches. January 30, 1722." 

Signed by Peter Thacher, 
John Danforth, 
Sam. Danforth. 

Some of these " Cases of Conscience " were : 

u Whether you do believe that singing Psalms, 
Hymns and Spiritual Songs, is an external part of 
Divine public worship, to be observed in, and by 
the assembly of God's people on the Lord's Days, 
as well as on other occasional meetings of the 
saints, for the worshipping of God." 

" Whether you do believe that singing in the 
worship of God ought to be done skilfully ? " 

" Whether you do believe that skilfulness in 
singing may ordinarily be gained in the use of out- 
ward means, by the blessing of God." 

" Is it possible for Fathers of forty years old and 



upward to learn to sing by rule. And ought they 
to attempt at that age to learn." 1 

" Do you believe that it is Lawful and Laudable 
for us to change the customary way of singing, for a 
more uniform and regular way of singing the Psalms." 

" Whether they who purposely sing a tune dif- 
ferent from that which is appointed by the pastor 
or elder to be sung, are not guilty of acting dis- 
orderly, and of taking God's name in vain also, by 
disturbing the order of the sanctuary." 

The above objections and cases of conscience, 
will give a general idea of the character of the dis- 
cussion, and the circumstances which produced it. 
Rarely have a people been more excited on a sub- 
ject admitting so little difference of opinion. So 
great was the excitement, that Mr. Symmes'says : 
" A great part of the town 2 has for near half a 
year, been in a mere flame about it." 3 How long 

1 Under the above heads the subject of natural ability was well 
discussed, and the people encouraged to make the attempt with the 
prospect of success. 

2 Bradford, Mass. 

3 The following extract was copied from the New England Cour- 
ant * Sept. 16, 1723. " Last week a Council of Churches was 


held at the South part of Braintree, to regulate the disorders 
occasioned by regular singing in that place, Mr. Niles, the minister 

* The M New England Courant" was a paper which at that time 
was published in the name of Benjamin Franklin ; though it be- 
longed to his elder brother, James, who having offended the General 
Court, was forbidden to publish it. The first paper published in the 
Doctor's name was issued Feb. 11, 1723. 




this excitement continued cannot now be told. In 
the year 1720, it was raging like the fire on the 
dry prairie ; but by whom, or where it was kindled, 
is not known. It spread, in the fury of its power, 
over all the New England Colonies, and burnt for 
at least ten years, but to purify and brighten the 
churches. In some it was the glorious harbinger 
of a great and powerful outpouring of the Holy 
Spirit. Such was it in Newbury, in Northamp- 
ton, and in several places near Boston, in which it 
was immediately followed by the gracious influences 
of the Spirit ; and though more remote, it was not 
less certain, in many of the New England churches. 


The first Essay published on the subject 
1720 ' under discussion, that we have been able to 

having suspended seven or eight of the church for persisting in their 
singing by rule, contrary, as he apprehended, to the result of a former 
Council; but the suspended bretheren are restored to communion, 
their suspension declared unjust, and the congregation ordered to sing 
by Rote and by Rule alternately for the satisfaction of both parties." 

" Dec. 9th, 1723. We have advice from the South part of Brain- 
tree, that on Sunday the first instant, Mr. Niles, the minister of that 
place, performed the duties of the day at his dwelling-house, among 
those of the congregation who are opposers of regular singing. The 
regular singers met together at the meeting-house and sent for 
Mr. Niles, who refused to come unless they would first promise not 
to sing regularly ; whereupon they concluded to edify themselves by 
the assistance of one of the Deacons who at their desire prayed with 
them, read a sermon, &c. 



find, was a sermon written by the Rev. Thomas 
Symmes, A. M., D. D., of Bradford, Mass., a man 
of talent, of great influence and excellence of 
character. He wrote and published two sermons, 
and one essay upon the subject. The first pub- 
lished in 1720, was called " The Reasonableness 
of Regular Singing." The second, in 1722, was on 
" Prejudice in matters of Religion." And the 
third, in 1723, was his "Utile Dulci ; or Joco- 
Serious Dialogue." 

The following extract from Mr. Symmes's Rea- 
sonableness of Regular Singing, is too important to 
be omitted, both as an example of his works, and 
also as containing much authentic historical matter. 
It is probably the first work that was published 
upon the discussions of the day ; and though not 
as well written as some others, is of the greatest 
value for its information. Without it many inter- 
esting and important facts would have been lost. 

The work bears the following title. 


" In an Essay to revive the true and an- 


cient mode of Singing psalm-tunes accord- 
ing to the pattern of our New England psalm- 
books, the Knowledge and practice of which, is 



greatly decayed in most congregations. Writ 
by a Minister of the Gospel. Perused by several 
ministers in the town and country ; and pub- 
lished with the approbation of all who have read 
it." This was written by the Rev. Thomas 
Symmes of Bradford, Mass. delivered at a singing 
meeting in his own parish, also in several other 
places, and published in 1720. Mr. Symmes says: 

" The following considerations have occasioned 
many people to think that the publishing some- 
thing of the nature of what is here offered, would 
be very serviceable viz. 

i. " The total neglect of singing psalms by 
many serious christians for want of skill in singing 
psalm-tunes. There are many who never employ 
their tongues in singing God's praises because they 
have no skill. It is with great difficulty that this 
part of worship is performed, and with great inde- 
cency in some congregations for want of skill ; It 
is to be feared singing must be wholly omitted in 
some places for want of skill if this art is not re- 
vived. I was once present in a congregation, 
when singing was for a whole Sabbath omitted, 
for want of a man able to lead the assembly in 

" 2. The imperfect and irregular manner of 
singing tunes in most places. Some of the tunes 



are varied much, (and much more in some con- 
gregations than others,) from the pattern or notes 
in our own psalm-books and from the rules of 

"3. The difficulties and oppositions which some 
congregations have met withal, in their attempting 
and accomplishing a reformation in their singing. 
These arose in a great measure, from the misap- 
prehendsions and mistakes, of some honest and 
well-minded People among them. Thus it has 
happened in some, though not in all congregations, 
when singing has been reformed. It is hoped that 
as the contentions of Paul and Barnabas, were 
overrulled for the more effectual spreading of the 
Gospel ; so the oppositions that some have made 
against regular singing, will prove a means for 
the more speedy and successful reviving of the 
duty of singing psalms, and that in the most de- 
cent, Regular way. 

" 4. The success which has followed suitable 
endeavours to remove those cavils which some, 
(while they labor under their prejudices to singing 
by Rule,) have thought were unanswerable reasons 
in their favour. Experience has sufficiently 
shown, in scores of instances, that the most vehe- 
ment opposers of singing by note, never fail of be- 
ing convinced of their mistakes, as soon as they 



gain a competent knowledge in the rules of sing- 
ing, with ability to sing a small number of tunes 
with some exactness. I have never known, as I 
remember, or heard of one instance to the con- 
trary. The Reasonableness of singing by note 
and its excelling the usual way, cannot be fully 
understood by any, till they have attained some 
skill in the rules of singing ; yet there is so much 
reason for singing according to note, more than for 
the other way, as may satisfy any rational, unpre- 
judiced person, that is much rather to be chosen. 

" I shall now proceed in the plainest most easy 
and popular way I can, (for it is for the sake of 
the common people I write,) to show, That sing- 
ing by, or according to note, is to be preferred to 
the usual way of singing, which may be evi- 
denced by several arguments. 

1. " The first argument may be taken from the 
Antiquity of Regular Singing. Singing by 
note is the most ancient way of singing, and 
claims the preference to the other on that account. 
Truth is older than Error ; and is venerable for its 
antiquity ; but as for Error, the older it is, the 
worse it is. There are many bad Old Ways — 
Antiquity is no infallible mark of Truth. Math. 
5. 21. Yet the argument may be of service here, 
because those who plead against singing by rote, 



urge with much zeal and warmth, that this is a 
new icay, and the usual way is the good old icay, 
as they call it. Here I shall endeavor to prove 
their mistake ; and I suppose, that if they could 
be convinced, that singing by note was. known to, 
and approved of, by the first settlers in New Eng- 
land, it would satisfy most of them as to this 
point ; and if this be not done, it may be some 
will be so unreasonable as to think the point not 
made out, though it could be plainly proved to be 
at an equal date, to that of Instrumental Music. 
It is more than probable, it was known and ap- 
proved of by the first inhabitants of New England. 

I. " It was studied, known and approved of in 
our College, for many years after its first founding. 
This is evident from the Musical Theses which 
were formerly printed, and from some writings 
containing some tunes, with directions for singing 
by note, as they are now sung ; and these are yet 
in being, though of more than sixty years stand- 
ing ; besides no man that studied music, as it is 
treated of by Alstead, Playford and others, could 
be ignorant of it." 

II. " If singing by note was not designed, why 
were the notes placed in our New England Psalm- 
books, and some general directions there given 



about them ? If they were designed for a pattern 
for us to sing by , either it was a true and exact pat- 
tern or not. If it was not, either skill or honesty, 
or both were wanting in our predecessors, and 
surely you will have so great and just a veneration 
for them, as not to suspect either of these things 
of them ; but if the pattern was exact and was 
sang by, then, singing by note is of ancient date 
with us in this land. 

3. " There are many persons of credit now 
living, children and grand-children of the first set- 
tlers of New-England, who can very well remem- 
ber that their Ancestors sung by note, and they 
learned to sing of them, and they have more than 
their bare words to prove that they speak the 
truth ; for many of them can sing tunes exactly 
by note which they learnt of their fathers, and they 
say that they sang all the tunes after the same 
manner ; and these people now sing those tunes 
most agreeable to note, which they have least prac- 
ticed in the congregation. But suppose singing 
by note was not practiced, and that the usual way 
was in our congregations from the first settling of 
New-England ; it does not therefore follow, that 
singing by note, is not of the antientest date, nor 
that the usual way of singing is the best. For I 
suppose you will grant that there was a possibility 



of their singing in a way that was not of the most 
ancient practice among the people of God ; and I 
will prove that there was more than a probability 
of it, if they sang not by note, but in your com- 
mon ivay : I will prove it thus ; — That way of 
singing which all the books that treat of vocal 
music, and especially of psalm-tunes describes to 
be the way which was owned and taught as the 
true mode of singing, must in all probability be of 
ancienter date, than that mode or way, which was 
never so much as mentioned in any one book that 
treats of singing. Now, all Treatises of Psalm- 
tunes, which I have ever seen or heard of, speak 
only of singing by note, as the true and proper 
way of singing psalm-tunes ; and if there can be 
one book produced, which treats of vocal music, 
and gives plain rules for, and commends your 
usual way of singing, above that of singing accord- 
ing to the notes in our New-England psalm books, 
then it shall be granted that you have far more 
reason on your side, than could ever be discovered 
by any but yourselves. 

" Objection. But some will say, If singing by 
note is the ancientest way, how came it that it was 
not continued — when or by whom was it laid 
aside, or altered ? 

" Ans. The declining from, and getting beside 



the rule, was gradual and insensible. — Singing 
Schools and Singing books being laid aside, there 
was no way to learn ; but only by hearing of tunes 
sung, or by taking the run of the tune, as it is 
phrased. The rules of singing not being taught or 
learnt, every one sang as best pleased himself, and 
every leading-singer, would take the liberty of 
raising any note of the tune, or lowering of it, as 
best pleased his ear ; and add such turns and 
flourishes as were grateful to him : and this was 
done so gradually, as that but few if any took 
notice of it. One Clerk or Choirister would alter 
the tunes a little in his day, the next a little in his, 
and so one after another, till in fifty or sixty years 
it caused a considerable alteration. If the altera- 
tion had been made designedly by any Master of 
Music it is probable that the variation from our 
psalm-books would have been alike in all our con- 
gregations ; whereas some vary much more than 
others, and it is hard to find two that sing exactly 
alike. The alteration being so gradual, it is no 
wonder that people are ignorant when it was 
made, or that there is any at all. As weights and 
measures, which are sealed, with using them seven 
or ten years, may alter considerably, and the per- 
son using them not discern it, till he compares 
them with the standard, and then he is presently 



convinced of it. We are well informed, that in 
other countries where Singing Schools are kept 
up, singing is continued in the purity of it : 
Where they are not it is degenerated as it is 
among us. Your usual way of singing is handed 
down by tradition only, and whatsoever is only so 
conveyed down to us, it is a thousand to one if it 
be not miserably corrupted, in three or four-score 
year's time." 

In the following, as well as some of the forego- 
ing extracts, the reader will find too much history, 
to complain of its length. Some of these extracts 
have been made almost exclusively to show, in the 
language of the day, the state of feeling on these 
subjects. Others have been taken, to show the 
peculiar character of the discussions. 

III. " That way of singing which is most 
rational is the best and most excellent ; but sing- 
ing by note is the most rational way, therefore it 
is the most excellent. Singing by note is singing 
according to rule, but the usual way of singing is 
not so, any further than it agrees with singing by 
note, and so far there is no controversy about it. 
Singing is as truly an art or science, as Arithmetic, 
Geometry &c. It has certain and plain rules by 
which it is taught, and without conforming to 
them, there is no true singing. There is a reason 



to be given why each note in a tune, is placed 
where it is, why and where every turn of the voice 
should be made, how long each note should be 
sung &c. Now singing by note is giving every 
note its proper pitch, and turning the voice in its 
proper place, and giving to every note its true 
length and sound &c. Whereas the usual way 
varies much from this. In it some notes are sung 
too high, others too low, and most too long, and 
many turnings of, or flourishes with the voice, 
(as they call them) are made where they should 
not be, and some are wanting where they should 
have been : All contrary to the rules of singing 
and create an ungrateful jarr in the ears of those 
who can well distinguish sounds, and have real 
skill in the rules of singing. 

" It is most rational in any art or Science to 
practice according to the rules of it, especially in 
that which is used in the joint worship of God ; 
where every man is following his own fancy, and 
leaving the rule is an inlet to great confusion and 
disorder, which is very contrary to Him who is not 
the Author of confusion, but the God of Order, 
as in all the Churches of the saints . 

IIII. " If skill by note is most agreeable to 
Scripture precept and pattern, then it is better 
than the vulgar or usual way ; but singing by 



note or by rule is so ; Therefore, singing with 
skill or by note which is the same thing, is most 
agreeable to the general instructions which w r e have 
in scripture, about the external part of singing. 
Singing by note agrees best with that direction, 
play skillfully Ps. 33, 3. There is as much rea- 
son why we should sing skilfully in God's worship, 
as there was for the Jews playing skillfully. It 
was written for our as well as their instruction. 
Skill in any art or science implies a knowledge of, 
and conformity to the rules of it ; which they have 
not who plead for and sing in the usual way, A 
parrot can imitate us in many words and sen- 
tences, yet has not skill or understanding in speak- 

Thus have I shown that singing by note is the 
most ancient, melodious and rational way and 
most agreeable to scripture precept and pattern. 
Much more might be said in favour of regular sing- 
ing, as that, it is most grave and decent, and best 
answers the end of singing every way. And it is 
not without reason that regular singing most re- 
sembles the singing which will be the employment 
of Saints and Angels in the heavenly world, of any 
singing on Earth. And what follows is an argu- 
ment of no little weight in it ; it would give regular 
singing the preference, if they were equal for age, 



melody, reasonableness, and agreement with 
Scripture precept and pattern" 

The following brief extract from the same Essay 
is worthy of particular notice. The writer believed 
that all could learn to sing ; and so did many 
others, who were engaged in that great reforma- 
tion. As they believed all had the ability to learn, 
so they enjoined the duty upon all. Mr. Syrnmes 
says p. 14. 

"If all in this Province who can never learn one 
tune in the usual way, would industriously apply 
themselves to learn to sing by note, and in order to 
that, furnish themselves with Singing-books, and 
go to a Skilful! Singer for instructions, it is 
thought by a very moderate computation, that in 
one year's time, more than Ten-thousand persons 
might learn to sing psalm-tunes, with considerable 
skill and exactness ; and of the rising generation 
yearly more than a Thousand. And it is not a 
little thing to have so many voices employed in 
singing God's praises skilfully in the public, and to 
have Thousands of families enabled to practice 
this duty in their houses, who now omit it for want 
of skill." 1 

1 Upon this subject we find further testimony in a work called 
"Cases of Conscience " about singing of Psalms briefly considered 
and resolved," which is introduced at this place for its testimony on 
this subject. The writers say : 



The clergy at this time, saw the necessity, and 
strongly urged the duty of learning to sing. To 
this end they warmly advocated the necessity of 
establishing singing schools. Mr. Symmes says on 
this subject : 

" Would it not greatly tend to promote singing 
of psalms if singing schools were promoted ? 
Would not this be a conforming to scripture pat- 
tern 1 Have we not as much need of them as 
God's people of old ? Have we any reason to ex- 
pect to be inspired with the gift of singing, any 
more than that of reading 1 Or to attain it with- 
out suitable means, any more than they of old, 
when miracles, inspirations &c. were common ? 
Where would be the difficulty, or what the disad- 
vantages, if people who want skill in singing, 
would procure a skilfull person to instruct them, 
and meet two or three evenings in the week, from 
five or six o'clock to eight, and spend the time in 

" Skilfulness in singing psalms is an acquired gift ; and many 
thousands have attained it, by the Divine Blessing- on their reading 
and hearing of the rules of singing, and minding and conforming to 
the voices of good singers, and to their manner of singing. Some 
have a natural genius for it more than others ; and some have a 
natural sweetness and strength of voice above others ; yet, there are 
but few so deaf, dumb, weak and dull, as to be utterly unable to form 
variety of sounds, and to distinguish of tones aud tunes, and so be 
incapacitated to receive instruction for the musical and melodious 
singing of psalms." See p. 3. 



learning to sing? Would not this be an innocent 
and profitable recreation, and would it not have a 
tendency, if prudently managed, to prevent the 
unprofitable expense of time on other occasions ? 
Has it not a tendency to divert young people, who 
are most proper to learn, from learning idle, fool- 
ish, yea, pernicious songs and ballads, and ban- 
ish all such trash from their minds ? Experience 
proves this. Would it not be proper for school 
masters in country jiarishes to teach their schol- 
ars 1 Are not they very unwise who plead against 
learning to sing by rule, when they cant learn to 
sing at all, unless they learn by rule ? Has not 
the grand enemy of souls a hand in this who preju- 
dices them against the best means of singing ? 

" Will it not be very servicible in ministers to 
encourage their people to learn to sing? Are 
they not under some obligations by virtue of their 
office so to do ? Would there not, at least in 
some places, appear more of that fear of man, 
which brings a snare, than of true christian pru- 
dence in omitting this? And as circumstances 
may allow, would it not be very useful and profita- 
ble if such ministers as are capable, would instruct 
their people in this art ? " 

After this, several works appeared, written by 
some of the best men in the colonies. This, no 



doubt, is an evidence of the universality of the 
feeling on this subject. If the clergy, and the 
best clergy in the colonies, deemed it of sufficient 
value, thus deeply to interest them, certainly the 
people, whom it affected more, would not feel it 

The next Essay that appeared, in order — so far 
as we have found — was Dr. Cotton Mather's 

This was published at Boston in 1721. 


Like most of his works it is full of good 
thought and right feeling, but abounds more in his- 
toric fact, and classical allusion. It is entitled : 
" The Accomplished Singer. Instructions how 
the Piety of Singing with a true devotion, may 
be obtained and expressed ; the GLORIOUS GOD 
after an uncommon manner Glorified in it, and 
his people edified. 

"Intended for the assistance of all that sing 
psalms with grace in their hearts : but more par- 
ticularly to accompany the laudable endeavours 
of those who are learning to sing by Ride, and 
seeking to preserve a Regular Singing in the 
Assemblies of the Faithful." 



This Essay commences with the following 

" Proposal." 

" It is proposed that the pastors of the Churches, 
would frequently use, a short expository Preface, 
(which need not extend beyond four or five min- 
utes,) upon that paragraph of a Psalm, which is 
going to be sung in the Congregation : A short 
Exposition expressing the Lessons of Piety to be 
found in the verses now to be sung, and the tempers 
or wishes of Piety, which they are to be sung 
withal. What a marvellous improvement in piety ; 
yea, what a concert with the Multitude of the 
Heavenly Host, w 7 ould there follow, upon such a 
proposal duly prosecuted ! " 

This work ought to be introduced entire ; but 
we have only room for two short extracts. It de- 
signs to show, that we ought to sing : and how, 
and what we ought to sing. Under the head that 
we ought to sing he urges that " singing is natural 
worship;" and that it is a " positive institution 
of God." We will here make one short extract re- 
lating to what w T e should sing. It is quite as appli- 
cable now, as then. 

" The songs which are prepared for us by 
' ' the Holy Spirit of Cod, in the inspired wri- 
tings, that shine in this dark place, ought certainly 



to be preferred with us, before any mere human 
composures, in the public worship of the faithful. 
Those which for their original are peculiarly the 
songs of Zion, are the most proper to be used in 
its assemblies. It is true devout hymns composed 
by the good men of our own time, affected with 
the Truths of God, and able to handle the pen of 
the writer, for soaring poetry, may be used, and 
found good for the use of edifying. From Tertul- 
lian we learn that in his early days the Christians 
used even such hymns as were conceived by them- 
selves. Socrates mentions the psalms written by 
Chrysostom, and Eusebius mentions the psalms 
written by Nepos. The Arians made many hymns 
to be sung for the propagation of their heresies ; 
and the Orthodox walling to be made wise by their 
enemies, made hymns for the Preservation of the 
faith once delivered to the Saints. Yea, great was 
the army of them who followed Ambrose in pub- 
lishing of hymns for the use of the Latin Church. 
The Te Deum ascribed unto Ambrose, makes to 
this day a mighty noise in the world. The German 
Psalter has in it hymns of Luther's composing. 
And in the Bohemian Churches of the later days, 
they had a Cantional, in which there were seven 
hundred and forty sacred songs, besides the David- 
ical Psalms. But certainly, the hymns of unin- 



spired men, cannot be so profitable for all Instruc- 
tion in Righteousness, and may not have so much 
respect paid unto them, as those that are given by 
Inspiration of God. Austin did well to blame the 
Donatists for leaving the psalms of David and sing- 
ing hymns of their own invention. Yea, if the 
limitations ordered by a Synod at Bracara, were 
perhaps a little too strict, yet it was a wise order 
passed in a Synod at Laodicea, that forbad private 
psalms to be used in the Church. The French 
Churches have wisely confined themselves unto the 
Scripture Songs ; and the Dutch have harmonized 
with them. Can anything be so rich, so full, so 
sublime, as what the holy spirit of God has de- 
clared ? Every line will weigh against a golden 
wedge of Ophir ; every word is a pearl, and has a 
sense and worth in it that is invaluable. The 
psalms of David were sung in Jehosaphat's time, 
as he commanded the Levites to sing praise unto 
the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph. 
Words of an excellency, and efficacy, which are 
not found but where the Spirit of the Lord speaks 
by men, and his word is in their tongue. Yea, 
even the Song of the Lamb, in the fifteenth of the 
Revelation, seems to be fetched out of the Eighty- 
sixth psalm ; and the Song of the Angels in the 
Second of Luke, seems to be fetched out of our 



Eighty-fifth. And our blessed Saviour himself, a 
greater than David, and his Antitype, no doubt, at 
the Passover, as often as it recurred, sung at least 
a part of what they called The Great Hallel, which 
was the Hundred and thirteenth psalm, with the 
five that followed it. In a word we are so directed, 
Eph. 5, 19. Speak to yourselves in psalms, hymns 
and spiritual songs. In this direction, there appears 
an evident reference unto the distinction of the 
poems in our Hebrew Psalter. The poems are 
distinguished by three terms, exactly answering 
unto these. It seems to say, Let your Psalter 
supply you ivith the songs wherein the Admoni- 
tions of piety are to be received and preserved 
and applied among you." 

The following extract is from the close of the 
book ; and is selected as a historic record, and as 
showing the feeling and sentiments of the most 
influential Minister in the Colonies, upon the sub- 
jects then under discussion. He was one of the 
foremost, as well as one of the ablest, in the cause 
of musical reform. And it is a fact worth noticing, 
that the reform was taken up and carried on to its 
final completion by the Clergy, and by the most 
influential of the Clergy of the Colonies. 

" It is remarkable," says he, " that when the 
kingdom of God has been making any new appear- 



ance, a mighty zeal for the singing of psalms has 
attended it, and assisted it. And may we see our 
people grow more zealous of this good work ; 
what a hopeful sign of the times would be seen in 
it, c that the time of singing has come, and the 
voice of the Turtle is heard in our land.' 

" But in the pursuance of this holy intention, it 
would be very desirable, that people (and especially 
our young people who are most in the years of dis- 
cipline,) would more generally learn to sing, and 
become able to sing by rule, and keep to the notes 
of the tunes, which our spiritual songs are set unto : 
which would be to sing agreeably and melodiously. 
In early days a famous Council condemned it, in 
that there were disorderly clamors, with which 
the psalmody was then sometimes disturbed. In 
later days Cassander upbraided it — they made bad 
work of it. 

" It has been found accordingly in some of our 
congregations, that in length of time, their singing 
has degenerated into an odd noise, that has had 
more of what we want a name for, than any c Reg- 
ular Singing' in it ; whereby the celestial exercise 
is dishonored ; and indeed the Third Command- 
ment is trespassed on. To take notice of the 
ridiculous pleas, wherewith some very weak peo- 
ple, go to confirm this degeneracy, would indeed 


be to pay too much respect unto them. And they 
must have strange notions of the Divine Spirit, 
and of his operations, who shall imagine, that the 
delight which their untuned ears take in an un- 
couth noise, more than in Regular Singing, is 
any communion with Him. The skill of Regular 
Singing, is among the gifts of God unto the chil- 
dren of men, and by no means unthankfully to be 
neglected or despised. For the congregations 
wherein it is wanting to recover a Regular Sing- 
ing, would be really a Reformation ; and a re- 
covery out of Apostacy, and what we may judge 
that Heaven would be pleased withal. We ought 
certainly to serve our God with the best, and 
Regular Singing must needs be better than the 
confused noise of a Wilderness. God is not for 
confusion in the Churches of his Saints ; but re- 
quires, Let all things be done decently. It is a 
great mistake for some weak people, that the tunes 
regulated with the notes used in the Regular 
Singing of our churches are the same that are 
used in the Church of Rome. And what if they 
were ? Our psalms too are used there. But the 
tunes used in the French psalmody and from them 
in the Dutch also, were set by a famous Martyr of 
Jesus Christ; and when Sternhold and Hopkins 
illuminated England, with their version of the 



psalms, the tunes have been set by such, as good 
Protestants may be willing to hold communion 
withal. The tunes commonly used in our churches 
are few ; it were well if they were more. But they 
are also grave, and such as well become the Ora- 
cles of God 

" It is to be desired, that we may see in the 
rising generation, a fresh and strong disposition to 
learn the proper tunes ; that God may be glorified, 
and religion beautified, with a Regular Singing 
among us ; and that to them who are his servants, 
He may let His work he seen ; His glory also 
unto those that are his children here ; and that 
the lovely brightness of the Lord who is our God, 
may with conspicuous lustre be seen shining 
upon us" 


In 17*22, a discourse was published " Con- 
cerning Prejudice in matters of Religion, Or 
an essay to show the Nature, Causes and Effects 
of such Prejudices : And also the means of re- 
moving them. By Thomas Symmes, A. M. fyc" 
This discourse was written, and preached at dif- 
ferent places ; and was published at the request of 
several clergymen who heard it at the Second 
Church in Newbury. Although the words " music 



and " singing " do not once occur in it, yet it was 
aimed at, and to use the words of the preface, " oc- 
casioned by, a most unhappy and unreasonable 
controversy about singing by note." It is a sound 
argument, leaving the people without excuse. 
The text was, John 1, 46. " And Nathaniel said 
unto him, Can there any good thing come out of 
Nazareth ? Philip saith unto him, Come and see." 
The principal points of the discourse were founded 
on the words " Come and see." In this he urged 
the wisdom of examining and testing a subject be- 
fore we condemn it. As this does not touch di- 
rectly upon the musical history of the times, we 
will copy nothing from the work. 

If reformers were ever guiltless for urging their 
schemes upon a people, surely these were. The 
ignorance of the people, and the abuse of this part 
of divine worship, were excuses enough. Their 
singing, must have been past all endurance, for 
every one who had the least sensibility or know- 
ledge of the subject. A part of two or three differ- 
ent tunes would be sung to the same stanza ; and 
sometimes they would be singing different tunes 
at the same time. The introduction of a new 
tune, was an event that half centuries saw not — 
an event that called for the grave decision of the 
whole church, and sometimes for the parish vote. 



The proper manner of introducing a new tune 
was the grave subject of long and spirited debates, 
even against the decision of the " Platform of 
Church Discipline." 

So great was the excitement, so earnest the con- 
tention, so bitter the animosity, and so dangerous 

the party feuds, that in 1723, December 23d, 
1723. . 

" A Pacificatory Letter " was printed and cir- 
culated with a view to soothe and calm the commo- 
tion of the public mind. This was undoubtedly 
by Dr. Cotton Mather, and probably, was like oil 
poured upon the troubled waters. It exhorted to 
forbearance and long-suffering in both parties, but 
decidedly favored the reformation. The following 
are a few extracts from the 

He urges, 

1. "That the singing of Psalms is a religious 
duty incumbent on christians," and proves it by 
scripture only. 

2. " In singing of Psalms regard should be had 
to something internal, and something external." 
The heart, and the voice. 

3. " In singing, the voice should be governed by 
rule and measure." 

4. "These rules and measures for governing 



the voice in singing are not of immediate, divine 
institution, but the products of human art and 
skill. Ministers are commanded to preach the 
word, the Gospel, but they are not directed what 
particular words and expressions they should use." 

5. u Tunes whether new or old are variable.'' 

6. Christians should learn to sing Fsalms. 
Inasmuch as this is a part of religious worship 
which God requires of his people, they should en- 
deavour to be suitably qualified to manage their 
part in it.'' 

7. -'-Where a congregation have sung decently 
and orderly, yet in length of time, through negli- 
gence, and not observing of rules, they may possi- 
bly grow very defective in their Psalmody, and 
greatly need to amend it. I dont suppose that 
the present way of singing in many congregations, 
is really the old way ; but they have gradually and 
insensibly varied from that, through want of skill, 
good heed and observation.'' 

B. H Such amendment may be made, by singing 
the tunes in common use according to the former 
rules and measures prescribed for therm or by in- 
troducing new tunes, or by singing sometimes the 
old and sometimes the new." 

9. The same tunes should be usually sung in 
all our congregations." 



10. " Though what is mentioned under the 
preceeding head, is desirable for the reasons there 
given ; yet it is far from being absolutely neces- 
sary " 

11. " Different tunes being the product of human 
art and skill, I see no reason why persons should 
assume, and impose upon one another the singing 
of these or those tunes, whether new or old, rather 
than others." 

12. " All tunes being in their own nature indif- 
ferent and variable, it seems a pity and shame that 
any should set up their own wills, be humoursome, 
contentious, quarrelsome in preferring some of 
these before others. One would think there might 
be different apprehendsions about tunes without 
having fierce contentions in the case. In these 
things, agreement should be peaceably and calmly 

" Love, Unity, Peace among Christians, are very 
weighty, important, necessary, indispensible duties 
plainly and frequently enjoined by the great God 
our Saviour and our Judge. Endeavoring to keep 
the Unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace. 
Eph. 4. 3. Let love be without dissimulation. 
Be kindly affectioned one to another, with broth- 
erly love, in honor prefering one another. If it be 
possible, as much as in you lieth, live peaceably 



with all men. 2 Cor. 13. 11. Be of one mind, 
live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall 

be with you." 

" Are we not agreed in the object of our wor- 
ship, viz. God in Christ Jesus ? And in the rule 
of our religion viz. the Holy Scriptures ? And in 
the translation of the Psalms and Spiritual Songs, 
and in the Metre commonly used ? And being 
agreed in so many weighty matters, shall we quar- 
rel about what tunes the Psalms shall be sung in ? 
How weak and childish, how foolish, sinful, wicked 
is this ! Shall we that wear the name of christians, 
disobey Christ, that blessed Prince of Peace, grieve 
his Holy Spirit, dishonor our profession, scandalize 
our neighbors, make ourselves a scoff and reproach 
among our enemies, weaken the general interests 
of piety, break the comfort of our families and 
churches, and gratify the Devil that worst enemy 
of God and man, and all this, because of some dif- 
ferent apprehendsions about tunes ? O, tell it not 
in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon ! 
O, let us study self-denial, mutual forbearance and 
condescension ; and not be humoursome, willful, 
stiff, resolved in urging our own opinions about 
tunes, which are in their own nature indifferent 
and variable. Let us strive against self-conceited- 
ness, not to think too meanly of others, or too 



highly of ourselves, as though we were the best and 
wisest and fittest to lead and guide others in these 
indifferent things." 

13. " Those fond of old tunes, should not be too 
stiff and willful in their own opinions. What, are 
you so well accomplished, so perfect, as to have no 
need to learn or amend? Are you so well already, 
that it is impossible to change or alter your way of 
singing in any way for the better ? Can you be 
thus conceited of your own attainments ? Did you 
take more pains to learn formerly, than others have 
done lately ? Or can you do better without taking 
pains to learn, than others with ? Pray, do not 
think too highly of yourselves, nor too meanly of 

" Dont censure new singers, (as they are called) 
as though they were innovators in God's worship, 
introducers of indifferent things, or imposers of 

human inventions As for an old 

tune, or a new one, there is no more Divinity in 
the one than in the other. It is said, those fond 
of new tunes, are for bringing indifferent things 
into the worship of God ; it may be equally said, 
those fond of old tunes are for continuing indiffer- 
ent things in the worship of God. But how weak 
and groundless are charges against one another on 
such grounds as these ? If you say, the most that 



are for new singing, (as it is called) are generally 
of the younger sort of people; what then? if 
they are willing to take pains and learn, that they 
may be better able to worship God by singing 
Psalms, would you discourage them from this I 
Soise have no skill in tunes and singing ; and if 
none at all had, what would become of one part 
of God's worship, viz. the singing of Psalms 1 
Would you have the singing of Psalms continued ? 
Doubtless you would ; I am sure you should desire 
its continuance. Well, they cant be sung without 
tunes, and if they be not learnt in some measure, 
how can they be observed or kept in singing ? 
It was the commendation of Chenaniah, chief of 
the Levites, that he instructed about song because 
he was skillful. 1 Cron. 15. 22. If it is com- 
mendable to have skill for instructing in the sing- 
ing of God ? s praise, then it must be commendable 
in others to learn, even to receive such instruction. 
If you are fond of old tunes, endeavour to sing 
them by note and rule, as much as may be, else 
how is it possible that all should agree in any cer- 
tainty of the tune. And be not against learning 
the new. I think you should be glad when per- 
sons are desirous to learn the singing of Psalms 
regularly ; and especially when the younger per- 
sons are so, that one generation may praise God's 



works to another. Dont envy them the skill they 
have or desire to attain, in singing Psalms ; but 
rather countenance, incourage, and promote it as 
much as you can. Phil. 4. 8. Finally bretheren, 
whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are 
honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever 
things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, what- 
soever things are of good report ; if there be any 
virtue, if there be any praise, think on these 

14. " Those fond of new tunes should not be 
vainly or proudly conceited of their own skill or 
attainments. Have you attained more skill in 
tunes and in singing than some others ? Then be 
thankful for, but not proud of, your Attainments. 
You may possibly think you have more skill than 
others, when you really have not ; and then you 
do but flatter and deceive yourselves with a false 
notion. But if you really have attained more 
skill than others, in knowing and keeping tune, 
and governing your voices ; yet, do not think 
yourselves such able reformers, as though all were 
obliged to follow your opinion and practice. 
What rule or authority have you to impose your 
own way on others ? If you like one tune, may 
not they as well like another ? If you would not 
have them impose by keeping you to the old tunes, 



dont you impose by forcing the new on them. 
If you would personally learn to sing by note and 
rule, and teach the same to your families, and 
practice it in some private societies, where the 
'mattef is voluntarily come into, I think it is com- 
mendable ; but as to the public^ you should look 
on yourselves but as members of the whole : and 
all members should be more concerned for the 
good of the whole, than of any particular 

part If a number of new singers 

(as some call them) should force in their new 
tunes into public, without previous leave, consent, 
or proper and prudent steps to prepare for it ; to 
the offence, grief and disturbance of the greater 
part of the people, and it may be the elder and 
graver part of them ; I believe in so doing they 
would greatly provoke God, by breaking his com- 
mand, which requires that all things should be 
done to edifying. Learn as fast as you will, 
excel as much as you can ; yet, be gentle, easy, 
calm, patient ; dont force in your new tunes 
(or method.) till you can do it with public 


" As for regular singing, (so called), I wish it 
were better understood and practiced through the 
land ; but as for you who so eagerly endeavor to 
promote it, are you as properly concerned, about 


things of equal if not superior weight ? Are you 
as much concerned about the temper of your souls, 
as the governing of your voice in singing ? You 
do much at singing, what do you at repenting of 
sin, believing in Christ, sincerely praying t(f, and 
obeying of God ? If your souls are not uprightly 
engaged in these duties, the most regular singing 
you can pretend to, can never bring your soul to 

In 1725, a pamphlet was published at 
Boston, entitled: " An Essay to silence the 
Outcry that has been made in some places against 
regular singing, in a sermon preached at Framing- 
ham. By the Rev. Mr. Josiah Dwight, Pastor of 
the Church of Christ in Woodstock. Acts 17, 6. 
£ These that have turned the world upside down 
are come hither also.' " 

In the same year, written by the Rev. Valentine 
Wightman, and dated, Groton, May 20, 
°' 1725, was published ; " A Letter to the 
Elders and brethren of the baptized churches in 
Rhode Island, Narrhagansit, Providence and 
Swansy, and the Branches dependent in places ad- 
jacent. The love of the Father and the 
righteousness of Christ His well Beloved Son, 
and comforts of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 



" Beloved Bretheren ; 

M I am under some concern to 
write a plea for a long neglected ordinance, to wit. 
That of singing Psalms. Hymns or Spiritual 
Songs : and therefore in order thereunto, I shall 
(God assisting) First Prove singing of Psalms 
Hymns or Spiritual Songs to be the duty of Gen- 
tile believers under the Gospel. 

• Secondly. That it is a Moral duty. 
u Thirdly. What singing is. 

u Fourthly. How it ought to be performed. 

• And I propose to answer the objections as met 
with by the way." 

The matter of discussion in these has nearly all 
been given in the former extracts ; it is here only 
in another diess with some new arrangements ; 
we therefore omit any selections from either. 

In 17*27, the discussion upon regular sing- 
ing, had, in all its virulence, extended to 
Connecticut ; and we find an excellent essay, upon 
" Singing the Songs of the Lord/ 3 by the Pvev. 
Nathaniel Chauncey, M. A., of Durham, Ct., ac- 
cepted and adopted, by a General Association of 
the clergy, as their sentiments in the following 
words : 



" This Association having heard the Rev. Mr. 
Chauncey's arguments for Regular Singing do ap- 
prove of them and vote them to be printed ; 
recommending them to the public, hoping they 
may be of Usefulness. As Attests, 

" T. Woodbridge, Moderator." 

This recommendation was printed on the inside 
of the title page, in letters so large as to occupy 
the whole. The Essay was entitled " Regular 
Singing defended and proved to be the only true 
way of singing the songs of the Lord ; by argu- 
ments both from reason and Scripture ; Having 
been heard and approved of, by the General Asso- 
ciation at Hartford, May 12, 1727, with their re- 
commendation of it to the public. By Nathaniel 
Chauncey, A. M. 

" II. Cor. 13, 8. We can do nothing against 
the truth, but for the truth. 

" John 8, 46. And if I say the truth why do 
you not believe me? — New London. Printed 
and sold by T. Green, 1728." 

Mr. Chauncey's introduction is both able and 
interesting ; and, though worthy of a place, for 
want of room, it must be omitted. The following 
extract, though rather long, contains too much 
both of history and argument to allow an abbrevia- 
tion. He says : 



* The matter of controversy about the 
performance of this part of Divine Worship, 
is this, viz. 

" Whether in singing the Songs of the Lord, 
we ought to proceed by a certain Rule, or to do it 
in any loose, defective, irregular icay, that this, 
or that people, have accustomed themselves unto '! 

" It is a matter the wisest and most able to 
judge, are clear and full in, and do assert, That 
there is a certain rule to be used in singing ; and 
it is as clearly discerned, by the best of judges, 
that this excellent rule is left, and that there are 
many ill fruits and effects that follow upon the 
neglect of this rule, or deviation from it. 

M Hence it is that a multitude of persons live in 
a neglect of this duty. Many neglect it in public, 
they open not their mouths 1 to praise God. And 
probably many more neglect it in their families 
and because they know not how to sing. 

" Again. For want of knowledge and skill in 
music, persons cannot have that love for, that de- 
light in, and that relish of the duty, as if they were 
skilled and did use their skill. This is known to 
be a truth by the experience of such as once were 

1 The Puritans and their children, believed, like the Scotch, 
that singing was a solemn duty, obligatory upon all. They sagtt 
not by proxy, nor only in church, but in their families. 



ignorant and have afterward gotten knowledge. 
And the truth of this may be seen in other things. 
The ingenious Artist has much more of pleasure, 
in his science or trade, than another man who has 
no skill in it. 

" The rule being neglected as useless, the per- 
formance is very mean compared with what it 
would be, were the procedure by rule. It is as 
flat drink compared with that which is lively, brisk 
and full of spirit. And the esteem of it is much 
sunk, and a careless spirit prevails about the per- 
formance. And as it has been an unhappiness 
attending our defective, loose way of doing, that 
we have been under disadvantages either to discover 
our defectiveness, or to reform it ; so now, though 
we are delivered from that, as great, if not a worse 
evil is met with ; and that is, that having been 
long accustomed to a loose, irregular way, we are 
now grown in love with it, and are so far from any 
willingness to reform, that we cannot bear to have 
any fault found with our doings in this part of 
Divine Worship. Many are found so under the 
influence and power of custom, that they account 
the common performance to be better, than any 
reformation can make it ; and are therefore, so far 
from hearkening to any proposals for a reformation, 
that the proposal meets with not only rejection, but 



very fierce opposition, and abundance of censure 
and reflection ; and some are ready to lavish 
away as much zeal, as though there were an 
attempt to pluck away a fundamental article in re- 
ligion, or to bring in one of the greatest heresies 
or distructive corruptions into the church. The 
observation of this is matter of discouragement to 
attempt to do any service to religion as to this 
affair. However, there are some considerations 
that may, notwithstanding, move a man to adven- 

" 1. It is not only the most rational way of 
treating our fellow creatures to offer plain argu- 
ments for their conviction, but it is a thing that is 
really owing and due unto them. 

" 2. It is an honor due to truth. Indeed our zeal 
is to be wisely and duely proportioned. Our 
greatest zeal should be about the weightiest points 
in religion, but smaller things are not to be neg- 
lected. But just so much zeal is to be propor- 
tioned out unto them as is due. Math. 23. 23. 
These things ought ye to have done, and not to 
leave the other undone. 

" 3. Such an attempt may do some good, and 
it may be more than is feared. But 

"4. In case persons will continue to reject the 
truth after it has been sufficiently evidenced and 



proved, and their objections answered, it will make 
a full discovery of these persons and of the cause 
of their continuing to oppose and reject the truth. 
Men's fair pretences will not hide them in so plain 
a case. 

" And this will leave such persons without ex- 
cuse. John 15. 22. If I had not come and spoken 
unto them, they had not had sin, but now they 

have no cloak . And this will roll all the 

blame that comes herefrom at their door — let 
them use as much subtlety as they have, to shift it 

" I shall accordingly proceed to make some at- 
tempt for the convincing and satisfying of such as 
reject and oppose the making use of a certain rule 
in singing. Only I shall premise three things, 
which I conclude every one will readily concede 
and grant, that does oppose and withstand the use 
of a certain rule in singing. 

" 1. You grant and readily profess, that you are 
willing to comply with the mind of God about this 
matter, if you could but come to the knowledge 
of it. Every one that dissents professes this. See 
that there be such an heart in you. 

" 2. You will surely grant also that it is a very 
great sin for men to reject any truth or part of 
God's mind, in case it comes with due evidence 



and proof. It is a greater sin than men commonly 
imagine. And then, 

" •*]. Vou will certainly grant that so much proof 
and evidence as is accounted sufficient and vested 
in. in other cases and such as are more weighty, 
should be accounted sufficient in this case. No 
solid reason can be rendered why more proof and 
evidence is needful in this matter, than in many 
points that are more weighty. 

" These things being premised. I proceed to lay 
down the Assertion to be made evident, viz. 

That there is One and only one sure and 
certain rule to proceed bi/. in singing; the songs 
of the Lord ; so much knowledge of which, as is 
needful to the due performance of this port of 
Divine Service, it is the duty of edl. who are to 
bear a part in singing of those songs, to attain.'' 

To illustrate this position, is the great aim of 
this tract ; and this he does with a power and apt- 
ness not often obtained. The whole forms a very 
powerful and complete argument. Some of his 
leading ideas in illustrating this are these : 

u It is not consistent with the wisdom of God to 
leave the performance of this duty without a rule 
to guide it so as to reach these ends." 

" The command to sinsr involves and includes 
the rule. 



u There is but one instrument that is fit for do- 
ing this work. 

" The end and design of God's bestowing the 
gift of Music. 

" The scripture precept and example. 

" The impossibility of union and good effect in 
singing without it. 

"The ends to be obtained are lost without it. 

" There can be no certain end without a certain 

" There must be a certain rule, to judge of the 
work or duty done. 

" There must be a certain rule, to rectify any- 
thing amiss. 

" There can be neither w r ell-doing nor ill-doing, 
without a rule. 

" There can be no skill. 

" If there be no rule, then men have an advan- 
tage put into their hands to affront the Majesty of 
Heaven without trespass or offence. 

"If there be no rule, there can be no singing." 

His last argument was from testimony, and 
under this, he has : 

" From the judgment of the Learned and most 

" From the judgment and practice of our Fore- 
fathers, and 



" From the plea and practice of such as are 
against a rule, in their making some use of the 
rule, and their speaking of right and wrong in 
singing. It is very natural unto each man, that 
differs in sentiment from his neighbor, to challenge 
to himself this honor and happiness, that he is in 
the right and his neighbor is in the wrong. And 
it is to be seen in this matter about singing, as well 
as in any other thing. 

The difference among towns in singing is 
great. Scarce any two towns that sing perfectly 
alike, and some differ very much. And yet each 
town or person asserts they are in the right and 
their neighbor is in the wrong. Now this is a vir- 
tual or implicit yielding and acknowledging that 
there is some rule, by which a judgment may be 
made. Upon which I would say only this. Rom. 
14, 2*2. Happy is the man that condemns not 
himself in the thing he allocs. It is an odd thing 
to blame our neighbors, for going besides, or 
against rule, whereas, we ourselves acknowledge 
no rule. But then I would have a remark on these 
men's making some use of the rule. I have before 
made mention of this, that our singing was origi- 
nally owing to rule, and the very rule we plead 
for : and that there is some use made of the rule 
in every scng. Wherefore I would reason thus. 



[f there be no certain rule, why do you make any 
use of one ? In case there be a rule as your prac- 
tice declares, why do not you conform wholly to 
it ? It is beyond the wisest man in the world to 
reconcile this matter, to wit, How it should be a 
duty to make some use of the rule, and yet be so 
heinous a thing to conform wholly to it. 

" It is certain men do not usually argue so in 
other cases. Men can ordinarily see in other 
things, that the degree does not alter the kind. 

" What wise man would judge thus, that it is a 
lawful thing to read, or to write, but a very abomi- 
nable thing to read or write exactly and well? 
Or that it is a lawful thing and a duty to use 
weights and measures but an intolerable thing to 
have them exact and true. And yet this is the 
very case before us. We know assuredly that 
there is some use made of the rule in common 
singing. We only plead for an entire conformity 
to the rule ; and see how it is resented and 
opposed, as an insufferable thing. And thus I 
have offered the arguments for the evidence and 
proof of the assertion laid down. But though there 
be vastly more evidence and proof, than w T e have 
or can have, for many things that we readily own 
and hold in religion, yet the disaffection of men to 
the thing and their deep prejudices make light of 
all the weightiest arguments. And 



"Object. 1. This practice leads to the church 
of England and will bring in organs quickly. 

" Ans. 1. In case the thing be a duty we need 
not be afraid of any ill tendency ; the way of duty 
is the way of safety. 

" 2. It is beyond the wisest man in the world to 
imagine how skillful singing, should lead or tend to 
ill, more than unskillful ; we may as well plead 
that skillful writing or skillfulness in arithmetic 
tends to ill. There is nothing in the nature of the 
thing that leads to the church of England. 

u 3. But suppose it were possible for any to 
make some ill improvement of it ; it is against the 
common sense of mankind to reject any ingenious 
art or science in use among men, because it may 
be ill improved, or abused by some. 

M Because printing is, or may" be ill improved 
unto the venting of the worst errors and heresies, 
and the most lewd and wicked things that debauch 
mankind, shall we refuse to use anything that is 
printed ? Or because a Silversmith could make 
shrines for Diana, therefore to allow of no such 

" 4. This argument lies as hard against the 
common way of singing ; for they pretend to sing 
the tunes of the church of England. 

" 5. It is a very strange thing that our fore- 



fathers had no sense of this danger and hazard, 
but that after they were come into this country, 
they should turn the psalms into new metre, and 
annex rules to them to sing them by. 

" Object. 2. The very original of this way was 
from the Papists. It came from Rome. 

" Ans. 1. I deny not that the Gospel itself came 
from Rome to England ; we know it did so, and it 
is very probable that singing came along with the 
Gospel. I know not of any other corning from 
Rome but that. And if we must reject Regular 
Singing on that account, we must by the same 
reason reject the gospel too. But, 

" 2. As for the original of music, thai was be- 
fore ever there was a papist, or a church of Rome 
in the world. It was in great request and flour- 
ished much in David's time. David himself was 
excellently skilled in music, and so were many 
others in his time. And it is plain it was in use 
in Moses's time ; and probably known and used 
before the flood. But, 

" 3. Suppose some Papist has written about it, 
and the papists make use of the art of music in 
singing, it is very probable it is so, and it is no 
solid objection against the use of it. There is no 
reason to reject a thing because a papist has de- 
livered it. if an Angel should preach falsehood we 



ought to reject it. And in case a papist or a devil 
should utter a truth, it is not to be rejected. It is 
very true that the papists have horrible errors and 
corruptions in religion, and that both in Doctrine 
and practice: yet many of them are learned men, 
and write well about various arts and sciences, and 
practice well in some things. And if we reject 
everything that the papists hold and do, we must 
reject a great many things, that are plain duties in 
religion. It is enough that we reject what is ill, 
and as for what is true and good, we should ac- 
count of it, and embrace it, notwithstanding the 
papists do hold or practice it. Phil. 4, 8. What- 
soever things are true, &c. 

" 4. To take ofY the force of this objection the 
guides that we follow in this affair, are ministers or 
learned men of our own country or persuasion. 

" Object. 3. This way of singing we use in the 
country is more solemn, and therefore much more 
suitable and becoming. 

" Ans. 1. If by solemn you mean and intend as 
the scripture does, there is nothing at all in the 
plea, for it intends no more but joyful and merry, 
and is a word that is almost for ever appropriated 
to their great feasts, which are attended with the 
utmost demonstrations of joy, as singing, dancing, 
instrumental music, &c. 



" 2. But suppose by solemn you mean grave 

and serious. Nothing makes more against the 
common way : for they will readily grant that they 
use many Quavers and Semiquavers ; &c. And 
on this very account it is they are pleased with it, 
and so very loath to part with it. Now all these 
musical characters belong wholly to airy and vain 
songs ; neither do we own or allow any of them in 
the song of the Lord. Judge then which is most 

" Object. 4. It looks very unlikely to be the right 
way, because that young people fall in with it : 
they are not wont to be so forward for anything 
that is good. 

-" Ans. 1. As old men are not always wise, so 
young men are not always fools. Job. 32. 9. 
Great men, &c. 

" 2. Young persons are expressly commanded 
to praise the Lord. Psalms, 148, 12. Both 
young men and maidens, &c. 

ci 3. The same objection was made by the 
Scribes and Pharisees against Christ's being the 
true Messiah. The young persons and children 
owned him, honored him and followed him with 
their Hosannas, whereas the Scribes, Pharisees and 
Elderly people rejected him ; and they were very 
much displeased with the younger people, and 



would have them rebuked. . But the young people 
were in the right then, and the Elders in the 
wrong : And so is the case now. The children's 
learning to praise their great Creator and Re- 
deemer, is very displeasing to some older people. 
But it is doubtless pleasing to God the Father 
and to Jesus Christ. Ps. 150. I*et every- 
thing &c. 

" 4. And as for young persons being so forward 
in the matter, a good account may be given. 

" 1. They are generally more free from preju- 
dices, than elderly people. And then besides, 

" 2. Their present age disposes them to mirth, 
and it should be a very joyful and acceptable thing 
unto elderly people to see them forward to im- 
prove their mirth according to scripture directions. 
Is any merry ? Let him sing Psalms.' 3 

Such was the manner in which the " General 
Association of Connecticut " treated the difficulties 
under discussion. And we gather from the work, 
by inference, that the feeling very generally per- 
vaded society affecting it in no common way. 

But as storms produce a purer atmosphere and a 
brighter sky, so these troubles produced a new and 
more excellent state of things. Schools were soon 
formed, and well attended, and from their influ- 
ence, the songs of the Temple were again decently 



performed. In President Edwards's account of 
the " Revival of Religion in New England before 
1740/' published in " The Christian History" 1 for 
1743, there is the following record. " Our pub- 
lic praises were then 2 greatly enlivened ; God was 
then served in our psalmody, in some measure in 
the beauty of Holiness. It has been observable, 
that there has been scarcely any part of Divine 
worship, wherein good men amongst us have had 
grace so drawn forth, and their hearts so lifted up 
in the ways of God, as in singing his praises. Our 
congregation excelled all that I ever knew in the 
external part of the duty before, generally carrying 
regularly and well, three parts of music, and the 
women a part by themselves. But now they were 
evidently wont to sing with unusual elevation of 
heart and voice, which made the duty pleasant 

During these revivals the complaint was 


urged — and probably by those who had op- 
posed the cultivation of music — that there was 
too much singing in religious meetings, and that 
they used hymns of human composure instead of 

1 This was a periodical devoted to the history of revivals, pub- 
lished two years — 1743 and 1744, by Thomas Prince, Jr. 

2 This account relates to the revival of Northampton, in 1734, 
1735, and 1736. 



the Psalms. How much these complaints affected 
the interests of religion, or the private comfort of 
individuals, is not known ; but President Edwards 
deemed them of sufficient importance to devote a 
chapter of his work on Revivals exclusively to 
them. There was undoubtedly great joy among 
the converts, and it did express itself in hymns of 
praise. But it was indeed strange to complain 
that they sang God's praise too much. Nor were 
they contented with objecting to the amount. 
The time and manner were also denounced. They 
sang as they went in groups to and from their 
place of worship ; and this was an offence to those 
who probably had not been satisfied since the 
musical reformation commenced. To the last ob- 
jection, President Edwards devoted another chap- 
ter ; and we refer the reader to his remarks. See 
" Edwards on Revivals." New York edition, 
pages 257 and 361. 

The means of improvement in music, 


during the reformation, were indeed small. 
The number even of tolerable singers could not 
have been great ; and the books for instruction 
were very few. But the people had espoused the 
good work of reform, and determined to bear it on. 



From the commencement of the Reformation and 
onward, music grew more and more in favor ; and 
conventions, public lectures, and schools were 
common. But these were not the first schools in 
the colonies. There is good reason to believe that 
schools were known in the early settlement of the 
country, for Mr. Symmes says in his discourse on 
the " Reasonableness of Regular Singing : " " The 
declining from, and getting beside the rule was 
gradual and insensible. Singing schools and sing- 
ing books being laid aside, there was no way to 
learn." See the above-mentioned tract, p. 8 ; also 
" Joco Serious Dialogue," p. 4. In this he treats 
it, as a well-known fact, that schools had pre- 
viously been in vogue. 

Elliot, the Apostle to the Indians was, also, no 
doubt, in the habit of teaching his converts to sing 
psalms, while he taught them the first principles of 
Christianity. Their singing was spoken of by Dr. 
Mather, as being " most ravishing." It is certain 
he paid so much attention to their psalmody, that 
he had translated the psalms into Indian verse, and 
published them, before he completed more of the 
Bible than the New Testament ; and giving them 
psalms, can we believe he would neglect the music ? 
In 1720, we find singing societies formed 


in different parts of New England, for pro- 



moting Regular Singing; and before these, as 
lectures, were delivered some of the best essays 
upon music that have been preserved. From 
these societies, singing-schools, so long neglected, 
were revived ; and probably the societies them- 
selves were in part singing-schools, or rather sing- 
ing meetings. 1 It is certain that they had for one 
part of their design, at least, the collecting and 
diffusing of musical knotvledge. Hence musical 
subjects were discussed before them. Another 
part of their design undoubtedly was, to cultivate 
and improve the style of their Church Music. 
These societies or schools appear to have been the 
first extensively organized effort for that purpose in 
this country. They were to them schools, although 
not conducted exactly as schools are at this day. 
However little of elementary instruction there 
might have been at first, they were the germs of 

1 " We are in possession of an anecdote, which seems to fix the era 
when singing by note was first introduced into the churches at Bos- 
ton. Mr. Timothy Burbank, who died in Plymouth, Oct. 13th, 
1793, aged 90, was born at Maiden, and during his apprenticeship at 
the tailor's trade, in Boston, attended Dr. Colman's meeting. He 
was always uniform in relating that he attended the first singing 
school, and religious society which introduced singing by notes, at 
Boston. This era, therefore, must have been between the years 
1717 and 1724. Mr. B. was a chorister many years at Plymouth, 
also an officer in the militia." See Mass. Hist. Col. second series, 
vol. 4, p. 30. 



those schools, for which New England has ever 
since been remarkable. 

The most influential of the clergy, encouraged 
the cultivation of music ; and the study of it was, 
during the controversy, revived in the college. 
Mr. Symmes says in his Dialogue, p. 14 : " It 
was known and approved of in our College from 
the very foundation of it ; and though for some 
years of later time it w 7 as unhappily neglected, yet, 
blessed be God, it is again revived, and I hope it 
may ever be continued in that school of the 


While the clergy, as they ever ought, were 
urging on the work of reform in the music of their 
churches, the people were fast coming over to their 
faith, and earnestly laboring to carry out their 
schemes. The first churches to reform and im- 
prove their music, were those in Boston, Roxbury, 
Dorchester, Cambridge, Taunton, Bridgewater, 
Charlestown, Ipswich, Newbury, Andover and 
Bradford. See Cases of Conscience, published in 
1723, page 7. 

The Reformation was a noble triumph of good 



men in a good cause. But it was not done with- 
out labor. The clergy prepared, and preached 
upon the duty of improving their church music, 
with the same directness and pungency, as upon 
other subjects of Christian duty. Nor did they 
deem that in speaking once they had done their 
whole duty, and perhaps laid in a store of good 
works to balance some former delinquency. 
One of the most venerable of their number, 
had three discourses printed, in three successive 
years, that were prepared for, and preached to his 
own people, as well as to neighboring congrega- 
tions. Nor did they rely exclusively upon their 
own preaching ; but every man called in his 
neighbor's aid ; so that each one by exchanging, 
preached his sermon upon music many times ; 
and each congregation had the privilege of hearing 
their duty set forth by different men. 

There was great ability in the discussion, but 
there was still greater zeal. Not only did 'they 
preach to their own, and as they had opportunity 
to neighboring congregations, but they also 
preached from house to house, " in season and out 
of season." Associations of the clergy met to de- 
liberate upon this neglected subject ; and to them 
were submitted, and by them sanctioned, several 
of the tracts that were circulated among the peo- 



pie. How widely these tracts were circulated 
cannot now be told ; or how many more there 
were published that the desolating hand of time 
has not permitted to reach us. It is wonderful if 
one half of the tracts then printed has been pre- 
served. And if so many were printed for circula- 
tion, what must that number be, that was preached, 
but never met the public eye! In our research 
on this subject, we have been able to find ten 
lengthy tracts — each equivalent to a long sermon. 
Three of these were written by the Rev. Dr. 
Symmes ; two by Dr. Cotton Mather ; one by the 
Rev. Mr. Dwight ; one by the Rev. Thomas 
Walter ; one by the Rev. Mr. Chauncey, of Dur- 
ham, Ct., and the others, each indorsed by several 


The church music of our forefathers before the 
Reformation in 1720, was held as most sacred. 
The tunes were supposed to be holy ; u and that 
as much reverence should be shown to them, as to 
the psalms themselves." It was the custom of the 
people, " to put off their hats, and put on a great 
show of devotion and gravity, whenever psalm- 
tunes were sung, though there were not one word 
of a psalm." See " Reasonableness of Regular 
Singing," p. 18. 

Walter's introduction. 



The music before the public at this time was 
Ravenscroft's book which had been used in the 
colonies since their first settlement ; Playford's 
collection, which was published in England; in 
1671 ; that added to their psalm-books ; the 
small works by Mr. Tufts ; and Mr. Walter's 
Singing Book. The two English books were 
possessed by very few individuals : and the 
music in the psalm-book was most general 
among the people. The compositions, being 
those of the English masters, were of a high 
character. The music was of the old choral style, 
the church's only style of free melody. From the 
time Mr. Walter published his singing-book, on- 
ward, it was the favorite, and there was a constant 
demand for the work, to supply the schools and 
singing societies, so that it passed through several 
editions in a very few years. 


The people did not believe that music could be 
learned so as to sing a new tune without first hear- 
ing it. The same impression, might but a short 
time since, and perhaps may even now, be found, 
existing in the interior of Pennsylvania. But that 


Walter's introduction. 

must be a lamentable degree of ignorance on the 
subject, which could ever suggest such a belief. 

On this subject. Mr. Walter says, in the In- 
troduction to his Singing-book, " Singing is 
reducible to the rules of art ; and he who makes him- 
self Master of a few of these rules is able at first sight 
to sing hundreds of new tunes, which he never 
saw or heard before, and this by the bare inspec- 
tion of the notes, without hearing them from the 
mouth of a singer. Just as a person who has 
learnt all the rules of reading is able to read any 
new book, without any further help or instruction. 
This is a truth ; although known to, and proved by 
many of us, yet very hardly to be received, and 

credited in the country." 

The following extract from the same introduc- 
tion will further illustrate the sentiments enter- 
tained by both parties. " These rules then will be 
serviceable upon a threefold account. First. They 
will instruct us in the right and true singing of the 
tunes that are already in use in our churches, 
which, when they first came out of the hands of 
the composers of them, were sung according to the 
rules of the scale of music, but are now miserably 
tortured, and twisted, and quavered, in some 
churches, into a horrid medley of confused and 
disorderly noises. This must necessarily create a 



most disagreeable jar in the ears of all that can 
judge better of singing than these men, who please 
themselves with their own ill-sounding echoes. 
For to compare small things with great, our Psalm- 
ody has suffered the like inconveniences which our 
Faith had labored under, in case it had been com- 
mitted, and trusted to the uncertain and doubtful 
conveyance of Oral Tradition. Our tunes are, 
for want of a standard to appeal to in all bur sing- 
ing, left to the mercy of every unskilful throat, to 
chop and alter ; twist and change, according to 
their infinitely divers, and no less odd humours 
and fancies. That this is most true, I appeal to 
the experience of those who have happened to be 
present in many of our congregations, who will 
grant me, that there are no two churches that sing 
alike. Yea I have myself heard, for instance, 
Oxford tune sung in three churches, (which I 
purposely forbear to mention) w T ith as much differ- 
ence as there can possibly be between York and 
Oxford, or any two other different tunes. There- 
fore any man that pleads w T ith me for what they 
call the Old Way, I can confute him only by 
making this demand, 1 What is the Old Way,' 
Which I am sure they cannot tell. For one town 
says, theirs is the true old way, another town 
thinks the same of theirs, and so does a third of 



their way of tuning it. But let such men know, 
that, the writer of this pamphlet, (who can sing all 
the various twistings of the old way, and that too, 
according to the genius of most congregations, as 
well as they can any one way ; which must there- 
fore make him a better judge than they are or can 
be ;) affirms, that the notes sung according to the 
Scale arid Rules of Music, are the true Old Way. 
For somebody or other did compose our tunes, 
and did they, think ye, compose them by rule or 
by rote ? If the latter, how came they pricked 
down in our Psalm Books? And this I am sure 
of, we sing them, as they are there pricked down, 
and I am sure the country people do not. Judge 
ye then, who is in the right. Nay I am sure if 
you would once be at the pains to learn our way 
of singing, you could not but be convinced of what 
I now affirm. But our tunes have passed through 
strange Metamorphoses (beyond those of Ovid) 
since their first introduction into the world. But 
to return to the standard from which we have so 
long departed cannot fail to set all to rights, and 
to reduce our sacred songs to their primitive form 
and composition. 

" Again it will serve for the introduction of 
more tunes into the divine service ; and these, 
tunes of no small pleasancy and variety, which 



will in a great measure render this part of worship 
still more delightful to us. For at present we are 
confined to eight or ten tunes, and in some con- 
gregations to little more than half that number, 
which being so often sung over, are too apt, if not 
to create a distaste, yet at least, mightily to lessen 
the relish of them. 

" There is one more advantage which will 
accrue from the instructions of this little book ; 
and that is this, That by the just and equal timing 
of the notes, our singing will be reduced to an 
exact length, so as not to fatigue the singer with a 
tedious protraction of the notes beyond the com- 
pass of a man's breath, and the power of his 
spirit; — a fault very frequent in the country, 
where I myself have twice in one note paused to 
take breath. The keeping of time in singing will 
have this natural effect upon us that the whole 
assembly shall begin and end every single note, and 
every line exactly together, to an instant, which is 
a wonderful beauty in singing, when a great num- 
ber of voices are together sounding forth the di- 
vine praises. But for want of this, I have observed 
in many places, one man is upon this note, while 
another is a note before him, which produces 
something so hideous and disorderly as is beyond 
expression bad. And then the even, unaffected, 


secomb's sermon. 

and smooth sounding the notes, and the omission 
of those unnatural Quaverings and turnings will 
serve to prevent all that discord and lengthy 
tediousness which is so often a fault in our singing 
of psalms. For much time is taken up in shaking 
out these turns and quavers ; and beside no two 
men in the congregation quaver alike, or together ; 
which sounds in the ears of a good judge, like^e 
hundred different tunes roared out at the same 
time, whose perpetual interferings with one 
another, perplexed jars, and unmeasured periods, 
would make a man wonder at the false pleasure 
which they conceive in that which good judges of 
music and sounds, cannot bear to hear." 


After the discussions had ceased, and the viru- 
lence of feeling had passed away, there was in the 
minds of the people a fixed determination to pur- 
sue the good work which was as yet only begun. 
The arguments had not been lost. They had been 
treasured in the mind ; the people saw their duty 
and determined to do it. 

In the year 1741, we find, the feeling 

1 74 1 

still alive, and an advocate still before the 
people, in the person of the Rev. Mr. Secomb. 
We shall make but a very brief extract, to show 

secomb's sermon. 


his ideas in reference to the duty of cultivating 

" If God has given us strong Lungs and tunable 
Voices they should be used in Singing. Mere 
mental Music is too refined, for those who have 
Senses so quick and strong: and those curious 
Organs, which God has made so fit for this Pur- 
pose, so helpful in such Exercises, these are evi- 
dently designed by our Creator, to be used for his 
Glory. It is a great Beauty and Ornament to this 
heavenly Duty to be regular and uniform in it : 
Therefore we should make Conscience of learning 
the several Tunes which render this most angelic 
Exercise, harmonious and pleasant. A variety is 
tasteful and suitable to the Nature of Man, to the 
Affections and Passions, Virtues and Graces which 
are moved by the Various Occurrences which he 
meets with. The greater variety we have of 
Tunes, sung in a serious and regular, sweet and 
Solemn Manner, the more is the devout Soul 
raised in rapturous Joy or melted into ingenuous 
Grief, or otherwise moved agreeably to the Matter 
of the Psalm. 

" How delightfully did the heavenly Host sing at 
the Birth of the Saviour ? How often are we en- 
tertained with the elevating Songs of the Heavenly 
Choirs in the Revelation ? These reprove our bad 



Ears, our unmusical Souls ; we are check'd as the 
pious Mr. Baily tho't himself ; when he refused to 
sing with his dying Consort, the Angels sang 


The first organ built in this country was 
made by Edward Bromfield, Jr. of Boston. 
The following description of it, written by the 
Rev. Thomas Prince, minister of the Old South 
Church, in Boston, is copied from the Panoplist, 
vol. ii. p. 194. Speaking of Mr. Bromfield's 
accomplishments he says : 

" As he was well skilled in Music, he for exer- 
cise and recreation, with his own hands, has made 
a most accurate Organ, with two rows of keys and 
many hundred pipes ; his intention being twelve 
hundred, but died before he completed it. The 
workmanship of the keys and pipes, surprisingly 
nice and curious, exceeding any thing of the kind 
that ever came here from England ; which he de- 
signed not merely to refresh his spirits but with 
harmony to mix, enliven and regulate his vocal and 
delightful songs to his great Creator, Preserver, 
Benefactor, and Redeemer. He thought the 
Author of Nature and Music, does, by his early 



chorusters of the Air, with which the day spring 
rises, teach us to awake with them, and begin our 
morning exercise w T ith grateful hymns of joy and 
praises to him. And what is surprising was, that 
he had but a few times looked into the inside 
work of two or three organs which came from 

" Mr. Bromfield was born at Boston in 1723 — 
entered Harvard College in 1738 — took his first 
degree in 174:2 — his second in 1745, and died at 
his father's house, August 18, 1746, to the deep 
regret of all who knew him." 

" From his childhood he was thoughtful, calm, 
easy, modest, of tender affections, dutiful to his 
superiors, and kind to all about him. As he 
grew up these agreeable qualities ripened in him ; 
and he appeared very ingenious, observant, curi- 
ous, penetrating, especially in works of nature, in 
mechanical contrivances and manual operations, 
which increased upon his studying the mathe- 
matical sciences, as also in searching into the 
truths of divine revelation, and into the nature of 
genuine experimental piety." 




In 1741, Dr. Franklin published at Phila- 


delphia, an edition of Dr. Watts's Hymns ; 
and the same year an edition of the Psalms was 
published at Boston, for J. Edwards. These we 
believe were the first editions of that work pub- 
lished in this country. The Psalms and Hymns 
were bound separately, well printed on good 
paper, and altogether making two small, but very 
neat volumes. 

Where or when they were first used in the colo- 
nies, the writer knows not. Doubtless some con- 
gregations were supplied with English books be- 
fore an edition was published in this country ; for 
the design was favorably known in the colonies, 
even before they were published in England. 



While yet the author, Dr. Watts, had completed 
only a few specimens of his work, he sent them in 
a manuscript, written by his own hand, to Dr. 
Cotton Mather, of Boston, asking his opinion of the 
poems, 1 as a specimen of a work he intended to 
write and publish. Dr. Mather complimented both 
the design and the execution ; and whether his 
opinion had any influence or not, Dr. Watts went 
on with the work publishing in parts, from time to 

1 The following is a copy of Dr. Watts's letter accompanying the 

"To my honored and dear friend, Dr. Cotton Mather of New- 
" Rev. and Dear Sir, 

M I may persuade myself of a hearty acceptance of this little 
present I make you. They are the fruits of some easy hours this last 
year, wherein I have not sought poetical flourish, but simplicity of 
style and verse for the use of vulgar christians. 

" 'Tis not a translation of David that I pretend ; but an imitation 
of him so nearly in christian hymns that the Jewish Psalmist may 
plainly appear, yet leave Judaism behind. My little Essay that at- 
tends this manuscript, will render some of my reasons for this way 
of introducing the ancient Psalms in the worship of the N. T. 

" The notes I have frequently inserted at the end, are chiefly to 
render the world a reason for the particular liberties I assumed in 
each Psalm. 

" If I may be so happy as to have your free censure and judgment 
of 'em it will help me in correcting others by them. I entreat you 
Sir, that none of them may steal out into public. If God allow me 
one year more, even under my present weaknesses, I hope he will 
enable me to finish my design. To him be all the Glory. Amen. 
Your most affectionate Lover, and obliged friend. I. Watts. 

" London March 17th ; 


time, as he wrote, until in the spring of 1719, 
he completed the whole. Probably it was not 
used in the colonial churches at all, till after the 
Reformation of 1720, and perhaps not till near the 
time of their publication as above. But whether it 
was in a few instances or not, Watts was not sub- 
stituted for the Bay Psalm Book generally, until 
after the American Revolution. Then the change 
became the subject of warm and spirited discus- 
sions. The people were divided ; some were de- 
termined to make the change at all hazards, while 
others deemed it a most sacrilegious act. 


Not far from this time — 1741 — there 
was an edition of Tate and Brady's 1 " book 
of Psalms in Metre," published in the colo- 
nies. This was used in a few churches before 
Watts was introduced ; but how extensively it 
w T as used, or at what time it was published, the 
writer has no means of knowing. 

It is from this work, that the psalms used in the 

1 Tate and Brady were two English poets. Nahum Tate was 
born at Dublin, in 1652, and was poet laureate to William III. He 
died in 1715. Nicholas Brady, D. D. was an English Episcopalian 
divine, born in 1659, and died in 1726. They published their work 
before 1696, for " this version was licensed " during that year, " and 
was used in most of the churches in England and Ireland." 

Barnard's psalms. 


" Protestant Episcopal Church, in the United 
States of America/' were taken. They are selec- 
tions from this, throwing aside a very considerable 
portion of the whole work. And when the com- 
mittee made the selections, they also took the 
liberty — as others have too freely done — ■ to 
make such alterations as seemed to them desirable. 


In 175*2, another attempt to improve our 
metrical psalmody, was made by the P^ev. 
Mr. Barnard. He turned the psalms into verse, 
and composed a few hymns, which were published 
at Boston. This book was entitled, " A new ver- 
sion of the Psalms of David ; fitted to the tunes 
used in the churches ; With several Hymns out of 
the Old and New Testament. By John Barnard, 
Pastor of a church in Marblehead." 

In his Preface, he says ; " Though the New 
England version of the Psalms of David, in Metre, 
is generally very good, and few of the same age 
may be compared with it, yet the flux of Lan- 
guages has rendered several phrases in it obsolete, 
and the mode of expression in various places less 
acceptable ; for which reason an amendment or 
new version has been long, and greatly, desired by 
the most judicious among us. 



u After waiting long for the performance of some 
more masterly pen, and upon repeated desires, I 
have ventured to employ all the spare time of near 
upon the last three years of my advanced age, 
(this day through the forbearance of God com- 
pleting my seventieth year,) in composing a new 
version, suited to the tunes used in our churches, 
which by Divine assistance is now finished." 

At the end of this book, were sixteen pages of 
handsomely engraved music, with bars ; in all con- 
taining fifty different tunes. These are of the 
choral style ; such as London, Windsor, Mear, 
&c. At the end of the book were printed forty- 
eight tunes, in three parts, well engraved, with 
bars ; and immediately before the music is one 
page of elementary instruction. 

Mr. Allen and Mr. Elliot agree in their bio- 
graphical sketches, in limiting the use of Mr. 
Barnard's work to his own congregation. 


In 1758, Rev. Thomas Prince, A. M. revised 
" the Bay Psalm Book," and it was published 
with the following title : " The Psalms, Hymns 
and Spiritual Songs of the Old and New Testa- 
ment faithfully translated into English Metre, 
Being the New England Psalm-Book revised and 

lyon's anthem book. 


improved by an endeavour after a yet nearer ap- 
proach to the Inspired Original, as well as to the 
rules of Poetry. With an addition of fifty other 
Hymns on the most important subjects of Christian- 
ity, with their titles placed in order, from the Fall 
of Angels and Men, to Heaven after the General 

These revised psalms and hymns were doubtless 
used in some of the churches, if not in most, but 
to what extent is not certainly known. The 
work had been almost the only one in use from its 
first publication, and continued to be in some 
churches until superseded by Watts. A second 
edition was published in 1773. 


In 1761, a book of music was published with 
the following title. " Urania. Or a choice col- 
lection of Psalm Tunes, Anthems, and Hymns, 
from the most approved authors, with some en- 
tirely new : In two, three, and four parts : The 
whole peculiarly adapted to the use of churches 
and private families. To which are prefaced the 
plainest and most necessary Pi-ules of Psalmody. 
By James Lyons, A. B. Philadelphia. Price 155." 

This book was much larger than any previous 
work that had been published in the colonies. 


lyon's anthem book. 

Report says that it ruined^ the publisher. It was 
handsomely engraved by Henry Dawkins ; and 
printed on excellent English paper. It contained 
twelve pages of elementary' instruction, and about 
two hundred pages of music ; ninety of which 
were occupied with anthems. The arrangement of 
the harmony was bad, showing the editor to have 
been but little acquainted with musical science. 
In many places the harmony could scarcely have 
been worse. Dissonant chords are seldom used. 
In a few cases, the chord of the added sixth may 
be found at a cadence ; and in a few more, the 
strange idea of a seventh taken at the cadence on 
the subdominant ; but in no one instance is one 
found on the dominant. This w r ork contained the 
first music of a fuguing style ever published in this 
country. Not quite one half of the psalm-tunes 
were of the plain choral style, and the rest were of 
a light or fuguing character. The anthems were 
characterized by poor attempts at fugue and imita- 
tion with long runs in the melody. 

The following was his dedication. 

" To the Clergy of every Denomination in 

" Reverend Sirs, 

" Relying on the evident 
propriety of your patronising this Publication, per- 
mit me to lay Urania at your feet. 

flagg's book. 


14 Should the following Collection of tunes be so 
fortunate as to merit your Approbation : To please 
the taste of the Public : To assist the private 
Christian in his dayly devotion : And to improve 
in any degree, an important part of Divine Service 
in the Colonies, for which it wtis designed, I shall 
think myself happy in being the Editor, notwith- 
standing the great expense, labor and anxiety it 
has cost me to complete it. 

" May you long continue ornaments of your 
profession ; Dayly see abundant fruits of your 
labor in the Reformation of mankind ; And in- 
cessantly enjoy those sublime Pleasures which 
nothing but a series of rational and virtuous 
actions, can create. 

" I am, Reverend Gentlemen, 
Your most obedient, 

And humble servant, 

James Lyon." 


In 1764, a new collection of church music was 
compiled and published by Mr. Josiah Flagg, of 
Boston. It was entitled: "A collection of the 
best Psalm Tunes, in two, three, and four parts ; 
from the most approved authors, fitted to all 
measures, and approved of by the best masters in 


flagg's book. 

Boston, New England ; to which are added some 
Hymns and Anthems ; the greater part of them 
never before printed in America. By Josiah 
Flagg. Engraved by Paul Revere ; Printed and 
sold by him and Josiah Flagg, Boston, 1764." 

This was the largest work, except Lyon's, yet 
published in this country. It had one hundred 
and sixteen tunes, and two anthems. The style 
of the music was much lighter than any previous 
work ; containing every variety, from Old Hun- 
dred, to the " March of Richard, Third." The 
harmony was generally poor. The dominant 
seventh and its inversions were not used, except 
in two or three tunes, selected from Battishill and 
Riley. Modulations sometimes occur in one part, 
without the corresponding motion in the others ; 
with many other irregularities. The tunes are 
generally written in four parts, and the principal 
melody given to the tenors. This is the first 
American book in which the music was written in 
four parts. Selections are made from Tansur, 
Dr. Worgan, Battishill and others. There were 
also some American compositions ; but, the names 
not being given, the authors, and number of tunes, 
are unknown. That there were some, is plainly 
inferred from the preface, in which he says : " We 
are obliged to the other side the Atlantic chiefly, 

flagg's book. 


for our tunes. ' ? The work contained only three 
pages of elementary instruction ; of which, he 
says : " The Rules laid down, though concise, are 
plain, and contain the whole that is necessary." 

Although but one other new book had been 
published in the colonies since Mr. Walter's, and 
very few English works had been circulated, the 
author felt called upon to apologize for offering to 
the public a new collection ; and he says in his 
preface ; i; It may possibly be thought necessary, 
that some apology should be made, for offering to 
the public, a new collection of Psalm-tunes, at a 
time when there are already so many among us. 
The Editor has only this to say in general, that he 
has endeavoured, according to the best of his judg- 
ment, to extract the sweets out of a variety of fra- 
grant flowers. He has taken from every author he 
has seen, a few tunes, which he judges to be the 
best, and comprized thern within the compass of a 
small pocket volume ; 1 how far he has succeeded 
in this attempt, he leaves to the candid masters of 
Music to determine. If he is so fortunate as to 
meet with their approbation, with regard to the 
choice he has made, he begs leave, upon the sup- 

1 This work was the same size as most singing books are at this 
day. Then, every book was called a "pocket volume/' that was not 
a folio or a quarto. 


bayley's book. 

position, just to make this remark ; that as the 
tunes were composed by different masterly hands, 
the Air of them is various, which affords reason to 
hope they will not fail of gratifying in some 
measure persons of every taste." 

This work was very well engraved in round 
notes, and was the first book of music printed on 
paper manufactured in the colonies. He says of 
this : " It is hoped, it will not diminish the value 
of this book in the estimation of any, but may in 
some degree recommend it, even to those who have 
no peculiar relish for the music, that however we 
are obliged to the other side the Atlantic chiefly, 
for our tunes, the paper on which they are printed, 
is the manufacture of our own country." 


In the same year as the above, 1764, Mr. Bay- 
ley, of Newburyport, Mass. published a small 
work, entitled : " A new and complete introduc- 
tion to the Grounds and Rules of Music, in two 


" Containing the Grounds and Rules of Music ; 
or an introduction to the art of singing by note, 
taken from Thomas Walter, A, M. 

bayley's book. 



k< Containing a new and correct introduction to the 
Grounds of Music, rudimental and practical ; from 
William Tansur's Royal Melody ; the whole being 
a collection of a variety of the choicest tunes from 
the most approved Masters. 

" 0, praise ye the Lord, prepare your glad voice, his 
praise in the great assembly to sing. Ps. 149, 1. 

" Printed for and sold by, Bulkly Emerson, and 
Daniel Bayley of Newburyport, 1764." 

This work contained thirty-four tunes. They 
were neatly engraved by John \V. Gilman, of Exe- 
ter, in a diamond shaped note. The style of the 
music is nearly that of Mr. Walter's, or the choral 
f style. The only three tunes at all removed from 
it, are St. Luke's, St Martin's, and Weston Flavel. 
The others are like St. David's, Windsor, York, 
&c. The tunes are all arranged in three parts, 
base, treble and tenor. Some are copied literally 
from Mr. Walter ; while one, at least, bears the 
mark in the style, as well as the name, of an 
American composition. But of this we are not 
certain, as the author's names are in no instance 

Three editions of this work were published in 
the same year, 1764. Two were printed at New- 


billings's first book, 

buryport ; one for Bulkley Emerson, containing 
thirly-four tunes; and the other for the author, 
Mr. Bayley, containing fourteen additional tunes. 
The third was printed at Salem, Mass. for 
Mascholl Williams. These were all printed from 
the same plates ; but the title pages and introduc- 
tions were typographical, and from different forms. 


In 1770, Mr. Billings published his first work. 
It was entitled : " The New England Psalm- 
Singer : or American Chorister. Containing a 
number of Psalm-tunes, Anthems and Canons. 
In Four and Five Parts. (Never before published.) 
Composed by William Billings, a Native of Boston, 
in New England. Math. 21, 16. Out of the t 
Mouth of Babes and Sucklings hast thou perfected 
Praise. James 5, 13. Is any Merry? Let him 
sing Psalms. 

0, praise the Lord with one consent, 

And in this grand design, 
Let Britain and the Colonies 

Unanimoudly join. 

Boston : New England. Printed by Edes & 

This opened a new era for the history of psalm- 
ody in the colonies. The churches were at that 



time passing another mutation in the matter of 
their music. Watts's Psalms and Hymns were 
then just being substituted for the Bay Psalm 
Book and other works. Billings saw the desire for 
change, and threw into the current of feeling, a 
style of music differing from that in use, but yet 
not so widely, as to violate their prejudices. 
This for him was the time for success ; the tide of 
affairs all moved in his favor. The cultivation of 
music had been increasing since the time of the 
Reformation, in 17*20; and the increased demand 
for music, was, as yet, but imperfectly supplied. 
The works that had preceded his, had afforded but 
a small variety ; his gave more ; and as the last 
and greatest charm, it was the first American com- 
position ever published in this country ; and bear- 
ing a spice of patriotism on its pages, it became in 
that patriotic day, except with the critics, quite 

The New England Psalm-Singer contained 
twenty-two pages of elementary instruction ; and, 
prefixed, a preface and an " Essay on the nature 
and properties of musical sound," that occupied 
ten pages. The Essay was written either by Dr. 
Charles Stockbridge, of Scituate, Mass. or the 
Rev. Dr. Byles. In the body of the work, there 
were one hundred and eight pages, containing 



about one hundred and twenty tunes, together 
with several anthems. The tunes possessed con- 
siderable variety in character, and more variety 
in metre, than any previous work. In the har- 
mony, he took all the liberties one could desire, 
either with or without knowledge. To illustrate 
his views on the subject of harmony, we make a 
few extracts from his remarks upon composition, 
offered, " To all Musical Practitioners: 5 ' " Per- 
haps it may be expected by some, that I should 
say something concerning Rules for Composition ; 
to these I answer that Nature is the best Dictator, 
for all the hard dry studied Ptules that ever were 
prescribed, will not enable any person to form an 
Air, any more than the bare Knowledge of the 
four and twenty letters, and strict Grammatical 
Rules will qualify a Scholar for composing a piece 
of Poetry, or properly adjusting a Tragedy without 
a Genius. It must be Nature, Nature must lay 
the foundation, Nature must inspire the Thought. 

For my own part, as I dont think 

myself confined to any Rules for Composition laid 
down by any that went before me, neither should 
I think (w T ere I to pretend to lay down rules) that 
any who come after me were any ways obligated 
to adhere to them, any further than they should 
think proper : So in fact I think it is best for every 



Composer to be his own Carver. Therefore, upon 
this consideration, for me to dictate, or pretend to 
prescribe Rules of this Nature for others, would 
not only be very unnecessary but also a very great 
piece of Vanity." 

In style, the " New England Psalm-Singer " 
differed but little from that of " Williams's 
Collection," an English work, that was republished 
four years after, by Mr. Bayley. But it differed 
materially from the music in general use ; and yet 
more from the numerous books that immediately 
followed it. These are so numerous, that we can- 
not mention them particularly, yet must give an 
imperfect list 1 of such as we have seen, to show 
the increased demand for books, as an evidence of 
the increase of musical cultivation. We have ar- 
ranged them in the order of time, as they were 

1 This list is made from our own and from Mr. Mason's large 
collection of old American books ; and we are sorry that we have it 
not in our power to give it entire down to the year 1800. With a 
little attention the friends of music could easily complete the list, 
which should be deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Library, 
as a relic of the past worth preserving, not so much for their intrinsic 
value, as for their historical character. In the future, they would 
tell the history of the past, far more impressively than the page of 




" The American Harmony : or Royal 


Melody Complete. 6 In two volumes.' 
Vol. 1. By William Tansur. Printed and sold by 
Daniel Bayley, Newbury Port, 1774. Vol. II. 
The American Harmony ; or Universal Psaimodist. 
By A. Williams, Teacher of Psalmody in London. 
Printed and sold by Daniel Bayley, Newbury 
Port. Jan. 13, 1774." Each volume contained 
96 pages. 

u The Gentleman and Ladies Musical 
Companion ; — containing a variety of excel- 
lent Anthems, Psalm tunes, &c. collected from the 
best Authors ; with a short explanation of the 
rules of music. The whole corrected and ren- 
dered plain. By John Stickney. 1774. Printed 
and sold by Daniel Bayley, Newbury Port, and by 
most booksellers in New England." 

" The Singing-Master's Assistant : or 


Key to Practical Music : Being an abridg- 
ment from c The New England Psalm-Singer,' to- 
gether with several other tunes never before pub- 
lished. Boston. Draper and Folsom. En- 
graved by Benjamin Pierpont. June, 1778." 104 

" The Northampton Collection, By Elias 
Mann. Nov. 3, 1778." 



u Music in Miniature, Containing a col- 


lection of Psalm tunes of various metres, set 
in score. Engraved by B. Johnson. Printed and 
sold by the Author. (William Billings.) Boston, 
1779. 3*2 pp. This work was designed to be 
bound up with their Psalm Books, and was princi- 
pally selected from different Authors." 

" A Collection of the best and most ap- 


proved Tunes and Anthems, for the promo- 
tion of Psalmody. By Andrew Law. 1779." 
"The Psalm-Singers Amusment: Con- 

1 78 1 

taining a number of Fuguing pieces and An- 
thems. Composed by William Billings, author 
of the Singing Master's Assistant. Printed and 
sold by the Author, at his house near the 
White Horse. Boston. 1781." J. Norman, 
Sculptor. 104 pages. 

" A Collection of Hymns and Tunes, 

1 782 

printed at Cheshire, Ct. By Andrew Law, 

1782. " 

" Rudiments of Music, by A. Law. 

1783. " 1783 ' 
" Select Harmony, Containing the Neces- 


sary rules of Psalmody, together with a Col- 
lection of approved Psalm tunes, Hymns and 
Anthems. By Oliver Brownson." I. Sanford, 
Sculp. 1783. 



" The Massachusetts Harmony ; being 
a new collection of Psalm tunes. Fugues 
and Anthems, selected from the most approved 
Authors, ancient and modern. By a Lover of 
Harmony. Boston. Printed for, and sold by, 
John Norman, at his shop in Marshall Lane." 

This work was published subsequent to Billings's 
Singing Master's Assistant, for it extracts from that ; 
but the year is not mentioned either in the title 
page or in the preface. The style of the music 
was that of the day ; inelegant melody and worse 
harmony, filled with the most miserable attempts at 
fugue. The seventh and its inversions were 
wholly avoided. The compiler says : " I must 
confess, I dont think it absolutely necessary to in- 
troduce discords into the composition of a tune, in 
order to have some discovered in performing it." 
On the cover, in gilt, was the name of " Samuel 
Boardman, Jun., Lynn, 1784 ; " so it must have 
been published between the years 1778 and 1784. 

" Introductory Lessons, practiced by 
the Uranian Society, held at Philadelphia, 
for promoting the knowledge of Vocal Music. 
Jan. 1, 1785." 

M The Suffolk Harmony. Consisting of 

1 786 

Psalm tunes, Fugues, and Anthems. By 
William Billings. Engraved and printed by 
J. Norman for the author. Boston, 1786. 56 pp." 



" Select Harmony. An original work. 

1 780 

by A. Law. Baltimore. Jan. 7, 1786." 

" Laus Deo ! The Worcester Collec- 
tion of Sacred Harmony. The whole com- 
piled for the use of Schools and Singing Soci- 
eties, and recommended by many approved Teach- 
ers of Psalmody. Printed Typographically, at 
Worcester, Mass. By Isaiah Thomas," Jan. 1786. 
Pages 198. 

This is an interesting work, from the fact of its 
being the first book printed typographically in 
this country. All previous works had been en- 
graved. We extract the following information 
from the preface. 

" Having observed with pleasure the attention 
paid to church music, by most classes of people in 
the N. E. States, and knowing many of the books 
now in use, necessarily high-charged, owing to 
their being printed from copper-plates, he " (the 
Publisher) " was induced both by inclination, and at 
the request of several friends, to attempt a work of 
this kind from types; hoping to afford it somewhat 
cheaper, than any other book of its bigness printed 
after the usual manner. He accordingly engaged 
a set of musical types to be made in England for 
this purpose by one of the most ingenious Type 
Founders in Great Britain, which he hopes, on in- 



spection of the tunes, will be found to have 
answered the purpose." 1 

The typography is good ; a fair round note, and 
well distributed. 

In 1788, "The Second Edition with large addi- 
tions," was printed Typographically at Worcester. 

In 1797, " The Sixth Edition, altered, corrected, 
and revised, with additions by Oliver Holden," was 
printed Typographically, at Boston, by Isaiah 
Thomas and Ebenezer T. Andrews. 

From the preface of the sixth edition, we extract 
the following. " The subscriber " (Isaiah Thomas) 
" informs his musical friends who have so liberally 
encouraged the five former editions of the Worces- 
ter Collection, that he has contracted with Mr. 
Oliver Holden, who is interested in the work, to 
compile and correct the present and future edi- 
tions, which he presumes will be pleasing to its 

Mr. Holden edited three editions. 

" The Chorister's Companion : contain- 
1 ' ing besides the necessary rules of Psalmody, a 

1 From this little sketch we are induced to believe, that this work 
is the first printed by type in this country, and perhaps the first musi- 
cal typography known. Mr. Thomas, however, in his History of 
Printing, has not spoken of the subject at all ; and the writer has no 
means of knowing, whether musical type was known in Europe or 
not, before that time. 


choice and valuable collection of Psalm-tunes, 
Hymns and Anthems, from the most celebrated 
ancient and modern authors ; together with several 
tunes never before published. By Simeon Jocelin, 
New Haven, 1788." 

" Federal Harmony: in three parts. 


Part I. An Introduction to the Art of Sing- 
ing. Part II. A large collection of Psalm Tunes. 
Part III. Select Anthems, &c. Boston, Nov. 11, 

" Divine Songs " — " In three and four 

1 789 

parts. By Abraham Wood. Northborough, 
March, 1789." Pages 3:2. 

" Harmonia Americana. Containing a concise 
introduction to the grounds of Music, with a variety 
of Airs suitable for Divine Worship, and the use of 
Musical Societies, consisting of three and four 
parts. By Samuel Holyoke, A. B. Boston, 
Jan. 24, 1791." 

" American Harmony. ' In three and four 
parts. The whole entirely new.' By Oliver 
Holden, Teacher of Music in Charlestown, 
Sept. 27, 1792." Pages 32. 

" Musical Magazine, No. 1. By Andrew Law. 
1792." This work was a yearly periodical. 

" Supplement to the Chorister's Companion, 
Containing 16 pages of Psalm and Hymn tunes, 



newly composed, or not before printed in America. 
By Simeon Jocelin. New Haven, Feb. 1, 1792." 

H The Rural Harmony, being an original compo- 
sition, in three and four parts ; for the use of sing- 
ing schools and Musical Societies. By Jacob 
Kimball, Jun. A. B. Boston, 1793." Printed typo- 

" The Union Harmony, or Universal Collection 
of Sacred Music. In two volumes. By Oliver 
Holden, Author of the American Harmony. 
Boston, 1793." 

" Columbian Harmony, by Joseph Stone and 
Abraham Wood. Boston, Sept. 13, 1793." 

" Sacred Lines for Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 9, 
1793. Written and set to Music by Hans Gram, 
Organist to Brattle Street Church, Boston. To 
which is set several Psalm tunes by the same com- 
poser. Boston, 1793." 

" Columbian Harmony, No. 1. By Daniel Read. 
1793." (See Mr. Read's Biography.) 

" Musical Magazine, No. 2. By A. Law. 
June 19, 1793." 

" The Psalmodist's Companion." A compila- 
tion. By Jacob French, Author of the New 
American Melody. Boston, 1793. 

" Massachusetts Compiler, by Holden, Gram, 
and Holyoke. Boston, 1794." (See their biogra- 



" The Continental Harmony," Composed by 
William Billings. Boston, 1794. Pages 199. 

" The Art of Singing ; in three parts. Part L 
The Musical Primer. Part II. The Christian 
Harmony. Part III. The Musical Magazine. 
Baltimore, April 8, 1794." 

" The Musical Magazine, No. 3. Baltimore, 
Oct. 9, 1794." 

" The Harmony of Maine," being an original 
composition of Psalm and Hymn tunes. By 
S. Belcher, of Farmington, Lincoln Co. Me. 1794. 

" The Responsary : containing a collection of 
church music, set with second trebles instead of 
counters. By Amos Bull, of Hartford, Ct. 1795." 

" Musical Magazine, No. 4. Baltimore, 
April 4, 1795." 

" The Middlesex Harmony : being an original 
composition, in three and four parts. By Samuel 
Babcock, Watertown, Dec. 1795." 

" The Vocal Instructor. By Benjamin Dear- 
born. Feb. 28, 1796." 

" The Columbian Repository. By Samuel 
Holyoke." The date of this is not known. (See 

" The Harmonist's Companion. Composed 
by Daniel Belknap, teacher of music in Framing- 
ham. Sept. 11, 1797." 



" The United States Sacred Harmony. A 
compilation, by Amos Pilsbury. Charleston, S. C. 
July, 1799." This work had quite an extensive 

" Harmonia Ccelestis. A collection of church 
music in two, three and four parts ; with words 
adapted to each ; comprehending not only the 
metres in common use, but the particular metres in 
the Hartford Collection of Hymns ; the tunes cor- 
rectly figured for the Organ and Harpsichord, with 
an introduction to music. Chiefly collected from 
the greatest masters in Europe ; and never before 
printed in America. By Jonathan Benjamin. 
Northampton, Sept, 1799," 


On the origin of choirs there is now very little 
definite knowledge. The probability is that they 
grew out of the organized efforts that followed the 
Revolution of 1.720-30. Singing societies had 
been formed as early as 1720. These acted the 
triple duty of agents to gather, and to diffuse 
knowledge, and also to improve the style of per- 
formance. They were regularly organized singing 
societies or schools. The natural tendency of 
these combined efforts, was to collect, such as had 
practised together during the week, into a group 
to unite on the Sabbath. Hence the origin of 
choirs in this country ; they grew out of circum- 
stances. Those who had sung together, who 
thought and who felt alike upon the great subject, 
that had for years agitated almost every congrega- 
tion in New England, would be very apt to seek 
each other on the Sabbath, and thus form a choir 


at once. Schools too, had their influence in 
grouping the best singers, and uniting their influ- 
ence and voices in the songs of the temple. And 
the very spirit of opposition to regular singing, 
which had for many years existed, and which did 
exist for many years afterwards, being deeply 
seated in ignorance and prejudice, had its influ- 
ence, in banding together those who had been so 
long, and so virulently opposed. 

While there was much concerted action, there 
is no mention made of any regular choir, having 
separate seats, in any church for thirty or forty 
years. And they certainly did not become com- 
mon until near the time of the American Revolu- 
tion. If there were any choirs, they were doubt- 
less to be found in Boston and its neighboring 
towns. There were, without doubt, a few exist- 
ing in the larger towns as early as 1750 ; and in 
some places, perhaps from the Revolution of 1720, 
but not in the country generally. There were few 
country churches with a choir before 1765 or 70. 
They were generally formed as the people could be 
induced to allow them ; and in most places it was 
with no little trouble that permission was obtained. 
In some parishes it was the constant labor of years ; 
but in others they- were forced by some sudden 
emergency to yield at once. They were gene- 



rally formed as the custom of " lining out " the 
Psalm wa's done away. Or perhaps they were the 
means of removing that barbarous and penurious 
custom. At any rate, the choirs and that custom 
were ever at a war, in which the former have ever 
proved victorious. 

The following records will serve to illustrate the 
time, the manner, and the trouble, of forming 
choirs ; also, the importance attached to, and the 
manner of, choosing a leading singer. 

u 176*2. The parish voted, that those who had 
learned the art of singing may have liberty to sit in 
the front gallery. They did not take the liberty." 
Probably because they would not sing after the 
clerk's reading. 

" 1780. The parish requested Jonathan Chap- 
lin, Jr., and Lieutenant SpafTord to assist Deacon 
Daniel SpafTord in Raising the tune in the Meet- 
ing house." 

" 1785. The parish desire the singers, both male 
and female, to sit in the gallery, and will allow 
them to sing once upon each Lord's day without 
reading by the Deacon." 

u About 1790 the lining out the psalm or hymn 
by the deacons, was wholly discontinued." 

History of Rowley, p. 93. 

" 1764, Jan. 5. Voted, ' That the pastor be 


desired, sabbath preceding the next lecture, in the 
name of the Church, to desire the congregation, 
after the lecture is over, to tarry and consult with 
the church about choosing some person, or persons, 
to set the psalm when Capt. Averill is absent.' 

" 1764, March 13. Mr. Moses Perkins and 
Mr. Jacob Kimball, were, by the brethren of the 
church, and also by the congregation, chosen to 
set the psalm. 

" Voted, £ That the said Perkins and Kimball set 
in the Elders seat.' " 

Topsfield Church Records. 

Topsfield is one of the oldest churches away 
from the seaboard ; and though famed for its many 
singers, the above votes render it almost certain, 
that they had no choir at that time ; but within 
five years after this, they had an efficient choir, 
sitting in the front gallery, the place assigned. 

" 1773. The seats for the choir were designated 
by the First Parish in Ipswich, being < two back on 
each side of the front alley.' 

" Similar provision was made at the Hamlet, 
now Hamilton, in 1764, and at Chebacco in 1788, 
The choir of the First Parish began to sit in the 
gallery in 1781. This alteration was soon imitated 
in the other parishes." 

FelVs History of Ipswich. 



u At Worcester, Mass. in 1770, four men were 
chosen to lead the music on the Lord's day. 
These were to sit in the elder's seat. Three years 
after this, 1773, the first attempt at forming a 
choir was made ; and the two head seats on the 
men's side on the lower floor of the meeting house 
were assigned to those who sat together to con- 
duct the singing. 

" The final blow was struck to the old system by 
the resolution of the town, Aug. 5. 1779. Voted, 
That the singers sit in the front seats in the front 
gallery, and that those gentlemen who have hith- 
erto, sat in the front seats in said gallery, have a 
right to sit in the front, and second seat below, 
and that said singers have said seats appropriated 
to said use. Voted, that said singers be requested 
to take said seats and carry on the singing in public 
worship. Voted, that the mode of singing in the 
congregation here, be without reading the psalms 
line by line to be sung. 

" The Sabbath succeeding the adoption of these 
votes, after the hymn had been read by the minis- 
ter, the aged and venerable Deacon Chamberlain, 
unwilling to desert the custom of his fathers, rose 
and read the first line according to the usual prac- 
tice. The singers, prepared to carry the alteration 
into effect, proceeded without pausing at the con- 


elusion. The white-haired officer of the church, 
with the full power of his voice read on, until the 
louder notes of the collected body overpowered the 
attempt to resist the progress of improvement, and 
the deacon deeply mortified at the triumph of 
musical reformation, seized his hat, and retired 
from the meeting-house in tears. His conduct 
was censured by the church, and he was for a time 
deprived of its communion, for absenting himself 
from the public services of the Sabbath.' 7 

History of Worcester. 


For some years before the time of the American 
Revolution, a short, but exciting discussion was 
carried on, in different places, at different times, 
concerning reading the psalms and hymns, one or 
two lines at a time, for the people to sing, or, as it 
was called, " lining out the psalm" This was a 
short-lived contagion, that made its appearance 
where, and whenever an attempt was made to 
banish that custom, and which passed from one town 
to another, until nearly all were infected by it. In 
some places, however, the discussion became a pro- 
tracted disease ; preying steadily on the peace of 
the church for five, ten, fifteen, and sometimes even 
twenty years. About the year 1750, the custom 

controversy: puritan custom. 185 

of reading the lines had gained almost universal 
usage. It was first introduced by the churches in 
this country, as they changed their manuals of 
psalmody ; Ainsworth's for the New England 
Version or Cay Psalm Book. 

The custom of " lining out the psalm," probably 
had its origin with Metrical Psalmody ; and that 
was contemporary with the Reformation. When 
the Reformers first composed their hymns, they 
would doubtless often desire to use them at once 
in their public services ; and having no conven- 
iences for printing them, they would take the only 
way left, poor and undesirable as it was, which 
would be, for one to parcel out the hymn, for the 
others to sing. This method, however, was only 
practised for a short time. Soon, printed manu- 
als were found in plenty, in all the Protestant con- 
gregations ; and even the Roman Catholics them- 
selves were using them for a time. The Protest- 
ants generally either had books or else memorized 
the hymns, so that lining out was never much 
practised among them, until long after Protestant- 
ism was established. 

When the Puritans first came to this country, it 
was their good custom to sing without reading the 
line ; but when the Bay Psalm Book was intro- 
duced, a few congregations, in imitation of their 



brethren in England, introduced the method of 
reading the psalm line by line, for the people to 
sing. This, at first, was by no means common ; 
but in the course of thirty or forty years, it became 
the general custom, and so continued for nearly or 
quite, one century. The custom was adopted by 
the church in Plymouth in 1681, and probably by 
some others about the same time. 1 In 1664, the 
" Westminster Assembly " recommended to the 
churches that were not supplied with books, to 

1 The following is an extract from the Plymouth Church Records. 
" A church meeting was called by the Elder to be on Feb. 10, (1680.) 
At this meeting the Elder told the church a brother earnestly desired 
the Psalm might be read in public worship, because else he was in- 
capable of practicing that ordinance ; the matter was much agitated ; 
the Elder propounded to the church to speak man by man whether 
they judged reading the Psalms in order to singing was lawful, and 
that they could rest in the practice of it. The issue of the meeting 
was, the church desired the pastor that he would in his public 
preaching, hold forth from Scripture the lawfulness and necessity of 
reading the Psalms, which he expressed his willingness and purpose 
to do, and till then the practice of reading might be deferred. 

"Sept. 18, 1681, the Pastor from Col. 3, 16, in preaching showed 
the lawfulness and necessity of reading the Psalm in order to 

" Oct 2, the Elder stayed the church and desired to know their 
minds; Some of the brelheren rather desired the old custom of not 
reading might be continued ; but the body of the church declared for 
the lawfulness of reading, and all would rest in the practice of it ; 
accordingly Oct. 9th the Elder began to read the Psalm, and desired 
the Pastor to expound the psalm before singing and the Pastor did 
from that time constantly attend exposition throughout the whole 
book of Psalms." 



read their psalms and hymns line by line. The 
design of the recommendation was not for all 
churches to adopt it, but only for such as were un- 
able to procure books. The indifference of the 
people soon brought the thing recommended into a 
general custom ; and a scheme that was designed 
only to meet an emergency for the poor, to the 
great injury of the church, was adopted by all. 
In some churches, however, as Dr. Cotton Mather 
in his " Church Discipline " tells us ; " The as- 
sembly being furnished with psalm books, they 
sing without the stop of reading between every 
line." The service of reading w 7 as generally per- 
formed by the elder, or one of the deacons, who 
was also called the clerk, yet sometimes by another 
person appointed by the pastor. 

The first complaint of this custom found in 
print, was by the Rev. Dr. Watts, in the preface 
to an early edition of his psalms and hymns. This 
was seen by few, until that manual was introduced 
into the colonial churches ; which was about the 
time of the American Revolution ; some before, 
some after. The introduction of this work was 
the means of their acting upon the Doctor's good 
suggestions. In the preface he says : 

" It were to be wished that all congregations 
and private families would sing as they do in 


foreign Protestant countries, without reading line 
by line. Though the author has done what he 
could to make the sense complete in every line or 
two ; yet many inconveniences will always attend 
this unhappy manner of singing. But where it 
cannot be altered, these two things may give some 

" First. Let as many as can do it, bring psalm 
books with them, and look on the words while 
they sing, so far as to make the sense complete, 

" Secondly. Let the clerk read the whole psalm 
over aloud, before he begins to parcel out the 
lines ; that the people may have some notion of 
what they sing, and not be forced to drag on 
heavily through eight tedious syllables, without any 
meaning, until the next line comes to give the 
sense of them." 

The attempt to put aside this " good old way/ 5 
was most vehemently opposed by many, and in 
almost every town a hard contention took place. 
In some churches this was settled at once by the 
clergyman ; but in most a war of words and a viru- 
lence of feeling followed, that had not visited the 
congregations since the Reformation of 1720-30. 
By this change however, the church was not dis- 
turbed for any length of time ; a few hearty strug- 
gles, and those who defended " the good old way " 
yielded, and the " innovation " was established. 



The choirs which had been, and were being 
organized, had no small hand in cutting short the 
difficulties, which otherwise might have been pro- 
longed, much to the disturbance and injury of the 
church. In their zeal for performing that part of 
the public service, which they had either volunta- 
rily, or by request taken upon themselves ; and 
perhaps being, as choirs are too apt to be, of a 
restive disposition, they would either forget, or 
purposely sing on, without waiting for the deacon 
to read the line. This would bring down a tem- 
pest of indignation expressed, upon the choir, from 
the clerk and his friends, whose duty had been 
thus ruthlessly torn from him. The choir, of 
course, would be quite as promptly in their seats, 
and when singing, quite as prompt to their time, 
as though the people had been silent during the 
week. It would matter but little if the clerk 
should get the better of the choir, as they some- 
times did, and set the tune ; the choir could either 
set another, and in the fury of their strength, lead 
off in a march so resistless, that all, willing or not, 
would be obliged to follow, or sit silent ; or deem- 
ing it best to humor the matter, join the clerk, and 
taking him and his tune on their impetuous cur- 
rent, bear them gallantly on in their own time and 
manner. An attempt to stop them to read the 


hedge's sermon. 

line, when they had fully determined to go, would 
be an attempt to stop the whirlwind in its^course. 
Hence a few efforts, and the clerk sat in hope- 
less despair at their rashness and impiety. Here 
and there an indignant clerk might be found who 
would take his revenge on the spot, as once hap- 
pened in the town of T., in Massachusetts. The 
choir having led off with a little too much zeal, 
without giving the deacon time to read, he rose at 
the conclusion of the psalm, and gravely setting his 
spectacles upon his nose, opened his book, saying: 
" now let the people of God sing." He accord- 
ingly set a psalm, and in pity and respect to the 
good old man, all joined in singing it. 

The following extract from a sermon, will 


serve to show something of the state of feel- 
ing, and the principal arguments, both for and 
against omitting to read the lines. This sermon 
was " preached at a singing lecture in Warwick, 
January 29, 1772. By Lemuel Hedge, A. M., 
pastor of the church there." 

" The custom of reading the psalm, line 

by line, as it is sung, is objected against, by 
the greatest masters of song, as a violation of the 
rules of singing. But so great are the advantages 

hedge's sermon. 


that are supposed to accrue by that practice another 
way, that many are loth to give it up: and this in 
many places causes great heat and contention. I 
shall not think it amiss at this time, briefly to con- 
sider this matter, and shall endeavour to give the 
arguments on both sides, their due weight that we 
may better come to the knowledge of our own 
duty in this affair. 

" As to matters of God's worship, we have 
nothing to direct us therein but his Word, — or the 
practice of the primitive Churches, — or the expe- 
diency and fitness of things. — The Word of God 
is the only rule of conscience ; and no man can 
say that he cant in conscience, comply with any 
proposed practice, unless he can see something in 
the Scriptures that forbids it. He may plead that 
his humour forbids it, but he cant plead conscience, 
unless he finds something in the Bible, that directs 
him in the case. Now the Bible nowhere tells us, 
that the psalm shall be read line by line when 
we sing ; nor is anything there said, that implies 
any such thing. It is w T ell known to all that have 
looked into antiquity, and what was the custom of 
the Jewish church, that they never practiced read- 
ing with singing. Indeed, their tunes were so 
contrived; that they would not admit of such a 


hedge's sermon. 

practice. They were something like our anthems? 
musical notes were set over the words in their 
psalm-books, which directed their voices, as they 
pronounced the words in singing. Christ and his 
Apostles were trained up in this manner of singing, 
and were able to sing together, as we find they did 
at the institution of the Lord's Supper. They 
did not form a new scale of music, but kept to 
that which was practiced upon in the Jewish 

" As to the Primitive Christians, we find not 
the least tittle to incline us to think that reading 
with singing, was ever practiced in a single in- 
stance by them ; nor the least mention of any such 
officer as a Reader of the psalm for the congrega- 
tion, when singing: and certainly it belonged not 
to the Deacon' } s office, any more than to the office 
of any one else, — and yet some of the writers of 
those times, professedly give an account of the 
customs and practices of christians in their public 
worship ; so that, if it had been the custom to 
read with singing, it is very unaccountable, that 
they should say nothing at all about it. And I 
believe I may safely challenge any man to produce 
a single instance, of thus reading with singing for 
about fifteen hundred years after Christ. I confess 

1 See Dr. Watts's larger Preface to his version of the Psalms, p. 17. 

hedge's sermon. 


I am unable to give a particular account, how the 
practice came to take place in Christian churches : 
But the most probable conjecture is this. When 
a Reformation from Popery took place, the psalm- 
ody of the Church of Rome was so corrupted with 
popish doctrines and superstitions, that when the 
Reformers broke off from her communion, they 
left their psalm-books behind them ; and whenever 
a version was published according to the Protes- 
tant scheme, special care was taken by the Pope to 
suppress all such translations ; and in those coun- 
tries where his influence most extended, very few 
such psalm-books could be procured : And as 
ignorance w r ith them was the mother of devotion, 
very few were taught to read, and so, unable to 
make use of psalm-books if they had them. So 
that the churches were obliged either to alter the 
manner of their singing, or many of them lose the 
matter of the song. For which reason it was 
probable they first allowed of reading with singing. 
But it appears that this practice never took place 
in most of the Reformed Churches." .... 

" Thus those who are in favour of singing with- 
out reading plead — that they have the example of 
God's ancient church — the practice of Christ and 
his Apostles, and of the Christian church for fifteen 
hundred years together — that reading is a viola- 


hedge's sermon. 

tion of the rules of singing — interrupts the song — 
hurts the melody and disappoints them of the 
pleasure of the music — that in a country where 
psalm-books may be had at so cheap a rate, as 
among us, it is entirely needless to have it so — and 
if people would provide themselves with books (as 
they ought to do) they would better take the 
sense, and see the connection of one line and 
verse, with another, than they possibly can do by 
hearing it read line by line— all might better un- 
derstand the matter of the song, and no interrup- 
tion given to the manner of it. 

" But on the other side it is plead — That many 
people are poor, and unable to purchase psalm- 
books — that others are old, and unable to see to 
read if they had them — that there are many 
young people and others, that cant so well read, 
and they would take the sense much better to 
have it read line by line : They plead also — that 
it has always been the practice of our Fore-fathers 
in this Land — and that this singing without read- 
ing, is a new-found invention of man — that it 
disturbs the peace of Churches and Societies — and 
(those that know no better will say that it) is a 
leading step to popery ; and that if they once be- 
gin to let in new things, they know not where they 
shall stop — and that since they have reason to 

hedge's sermon. 


believe that God has heard the prayers, and ac- 
cepted the praises of his people in this land, when 
they have worshipped him in the manner they 
now do — and since also, they cannot see that 
reading does give such an interruption to regular 
singing as is pretended ; — they cant see their 
way clear to encourage the practice of singing 
without it; — It is what they never heard of till 
late, and they dont love to be given to change. 
These are their main objections. Let us consider 
them and see what can be said in answer to them. 

" As to people's being poor, and unable to pur- 
chace psalm-books ; there are enough that will en- 
gage to give to such as are not able to buy for 
themselves ; so that this objection is quickly 

" As to those that cannot see to read, or cannot 
read if they could see ; doubtless reading line by 
line may be of some advantage to them ; but I 
presume the number of such is very small, — and 
there may be others that are deaf, and cannot 
hear, if it is read ; and yet because it is not cus- 
tomary to carry psalm-books to public worship, 
they neglect it, for fear of being looked upon as 
singular, and making their infirmity to be taken 
notice of by the assembly : Whereas if it had been 
customary to carry books (as it would have been 



hedge's sermon. 

if there had been no reading) they would have 
done it, and so, would always have been able to 
have taken the sense of the psalm as it was sung. 
But further — considering the disadvantages that 
attend singing with reading, it may justly be ques- 
tioned, whether for the sake of a very few old 
people, and persons that cannot read, congrega- 
tions are in duty bound to tolerate that practice : 
We know of no such provision that was made for 
their infirmities, either in God's ancient Church, or 
by Christ and his Apostles, or by any of the primi- 
tive Churches : And if they did not, it will be hard 
to prove that we are in duty bound to do it. I 
would condescend as far for the sake of such, as is 
any way reasonable or convenient, but to do it at 
the expense of the regular performance of that 
part of worship, and to the disadvantage of so many 
others, is what I cannot see sufficient reason for. 
Besides, when once those persons become better 
acquainted with the method, they will by the help 
of hearing the psalm once read over by the minis- 
ter, and attending to the singers as it is sung, (if 
they speak the words as distinctly and plainly as 
they can, which they should be careful to do) I 
say such persons, and indeed all the congregation 
may understand most that is sung. So that read- 
ing with singing will be but of very little, if any 
advantage upon this account. 

hedge's sermon. 


u As to the plea that it has been the universal 
practice, of our Forefathers in this land, and that 
to sing without reading, is a new-found invention 
of man ; this is wholly a mistake. — Mr. Mather 
in his Ratio Disciplines, a book published above 
fifty years ago, tells us, ' that some congregations, 
where they had psalm books sung without read- 
ing ; • and it is well known to those who have 
made due enquiry, that it was never practiced in 
some of the oldest churches in this land ; and it is 
so far from being a new invention, that it is as old 
as Christianity itself, and was the method practiced 
by our Savior and his Apostles : So that when we 
plead for it, we ask for no more, than what was 
the good old way — and it is to be hoped thai all 
who are lovers of that way will readily join 
with us. 

" As for making disturbances in the church — 
it is generally observed that those who are most 
disturbed, are commonly such as know the least of 
the matter. There is no reformation that is ever 
set on foot, even though it be from such gross cor- 
ruptions as Idolatry itself, but what will cause dis- 
turbances, and breed contention. The ignorance 
of some, the prejudice of others, and the wilfulness 
of more, will always raise opposition. And what ? 
because of this shall we never attempt to reform ? 


hedge's sermon. 

We were unworthy the name of Christians if we 
did not. Indeed in matters of little or no conse- 
quence, it is not worth while to disturb the peace 
of societies about them : And whether the thing 
now pleaded for, be worth contending about, I will 
not determine — I hope none are for driving mat- 
ters to extremity, or making such a point of it, as 
to disturb the peace of society : — But then, one 
way, or the other may be most agreeable to the 
body of the people, and most acceptable to God ; 
and it cannot be amiss to consider what may be 
said on both sides of the question. And I hope 
that every one will judge for himself, and act upon 
that side where he sees the greatest light. 

"•As to its being a leading step to popery and 
an inlet to innovations ; there is not the least 
foundation for such an assertion. This is only the 
6 Bug-bear of folly,' and an outcry to disturb the 
minds of others. For what sort of connection can 
any one see, between singing without reading and 
popery ? They may as well say that the practice 
of primitive Christianity led to popery. And if it 
is really a reformation in our worship, to sing with- 
out reading, and a coming nearer to primitive 
christians, we ought to rejoice in it, and be glad of 
such innovations every day. 

" Doubtless God has heard the prayers, and 

hedge's sermon. 


accepted the praises of his people in this land, 
though they have not sung in the manner that is 
here pleaded for. It is not every irregular prac- 
tice in his worship that will cause him who is infi- 
nite in mercy, and ready to pardon, to reject the 
prayers and praises of his worshippers. But 
although He has accepted the praises of his people 
when performed in a less suitable manner, it will 
not from thence follow, that they would not have 
been more acceptable, if they had been performed 
in a different manner: And therefore it can be no 
plea for continuing that practice. Though the 
prayers and praises of a person not perfectly sanc- 
tified, may be acceptable to God ; yet it would be 
very wicked for a person to say — that therefore 
he will not press forward towards greater perfec- 
tion ; for certainly the nearer he gets to perfection, 
the better he performs his duty, and the more ac- 
ceptable to God. 

u These are the main pleas that are made in 
favour of the present customary way of singing — 
you yourselves, are to judge of the force of them, 
and of the answers given to them." 

Such were the objections, and such the answers 
that were a thousand times made during this dis- 
cussion. The light that was thrown upon the 
matter during this controversy, and the success of 



the experiment, assured the people that they might 
alter some things for the better, without either 
breaking up their church or marring their religion. 
It taught them that prejudice alone hindered them, 
and that removed, they had one interesting exer- 
cise of their public worship, purified, brightened 
and rendered a thousandfold more interesting. 

But it gained not the whole ground. While it 
removed this nuisance of public worship, from 
many churches, it left untouched by far the greater 
number. It had operated only upon a small part 
of New England, while the custom was still re- 
tained over all the remaining part of the States. 
But it had removed the prejudice that lay as a 
spell upon the churches, and they were left free to 
act as they might think best. From that time to 
the present, the churches have been laying aside 
that custom, from time to time, as they could be 
brought to feel that they were rich enough, or 
careful enough to obtain books. Yet still, to this 
day, it prevails over three-fourths of the territory 
of the United States. In some churches it is 
wholly used, and in others, only in their more 
social meetings. And still may be heard the same 
perplexities, that must always be found where this 
custom prevails — its broken and retarded sense, 
and its spoiled melody. Still may be heard occa- 



sional incongruities, as absurd, as those recorded 
of our fathers, when they read, and gravely sang: 
" The Lord will come, and he will not " — 

and pursuing the contradiction to a climax of ab- 
surdity, read and sang on : 

" Keep silence, but speak out." 

It is but a year or two, since the writer fre- 
quently attended church, in one of the western 
states, where the clerk, a lawyer of some note, 
used to dole out the hymn two lines at a time — 
with a nasal twang that Ichabod Crane might have 
coveted, but could never have obtained — always 
having the good fortune to be able to run out of 
the tune into the words, and from the words into 
the tune, without stopping or changing either the 
pitch or time. 

Ignorance and thoughtlessness alone retain the 
custom ; and, as they are dissipated by proper 
knowledge, this custom, so obnoxious to good 
music, will also disappear. 






When God, in his wisdom, sees it necessary to 
perform any great work for his church, he always, 
and amply provides the agents and the means by 
which to accomplish it. When the moral darkness 
and error, that, like some dark spirit had brooded 
over the church for centuries, was to be dissipated, 
then Luther, the orator and logician, was raised 
up to confute and to persuade ; and, as with the 
fate of the church resting upon his action, he stood 
forth a moral and sublime conqueror of the powers 
of corruption and darkness. For religious liberty, 
Luther wielded an argument, and Cromwell a 
sword. When the church to be more pure, and 
to be prepared for the latter-day glory, must be 
transplanted to the American wilds, then were 
raised up men able to lead the pilgrim bands, to 
teach those lessons of wisdom, and to implant 



those principles of eternal justice and truth, that 
should make a handful of pilgrims become a host, 
a light to the world, and a manifestation of God's 
special presence. Among these were men like 
Cotton, Norton, Wilson, Davenport, Hooker and 

John Cotton was born at the town of Derby, 
England, December 4th, 1585 ; and died at Bos- 
ton, in the Massachusetts colony, October 23d, 
165*2. He was of an honorable family ; yet it 
was not the blood of his progenitors, but the grace 
and goodness of God, that made him truly noble. 
His father, Roland Cotton, was by profession a 
lawyer. The family had been deprived of great 
revenues, and Roland Cotton was thus educated 
by his friends, that he might be better prepared to 
recover the estate. 

The parents of John Cotton were both emi- 
nently pious, and sought rather to make their 
child a Christian, than a great man. Towards the 
latter, however, nature had done so much, that art 
could scarcely fail. He was early placed at school, 
and so great was his proficiency, that he was con- 
sidered quite a prodigy. Luther w r as made A. M. 
at the age of twenty, Melancthon A. B. at four- 
teen, but Cotton received his first honor at thirteen. 

Soon after he finished his course of study, at 


Trinity College, he was made Professor at Eman- 
uel College, and at no distant period, became the 
principal Lecturer, Catechist, and Dean of that 
Institution. While there, he pronounced several 
brilliant and masterly orations, that gave him great 
reputation in the University. His sermons before 
the University were greatly admired — he was a 
scholar, a wit, and an orator — " and that which 
added unto his Reputation, was, an University 
Sermon, wherein Aiming more to Preach Self, 
than Christ, he used such Florid Strains, as ex- 
tremely Recommended him unto the most who 
Relished the Wisdom of words, above the Words 
of Wisdom : though the Pompous Eloquence of 
that Sermon, afterwards gave such a Distaste unto 
his own Renewed Soul, that with a sacred indig- 
nation he threw his Notes into the Fire." 

Cotton Mather. 
Mr. Cotton preached for some years before he 
experienced that change of heart which is the first 
requisite for a true ambassador of Christ. He was 
first impressed with the necessity of personal, vital 
religion, while young, under the preaching of the 
celebrated William Perkins ; but would not listen 
to the voice that called fi< return ; 15 and even when 
that good and great man died, he rejoiced in his 
deliverance from that powerful ministry. But after 



his conversion, he bitterly repented of these 
wicked feelings. He was at last awakened by 
hearing a sermon from Dr. Sibs, on the misery of 
those who have but a negative righteousness. 
This was the means of turning not only his heart 
towards vital religion, but his whole course of 
action, for life. From this time, he preached 
Christ and him crucified. But it cost him his 
fame at the University. The Wits and Scholars 
were unwilling to hear the truth, and the Vice 
Chancellor no longer offered him the hand of 

At this stage of affairs in the University, the 
people of Boston, Lincolnshire, England, invited 
him to become their minister, which invitation he 
accepted ; and there he labored to destroy the 
leaven of Arminianism, and to encourage holy 
living, with signal success. 

After he had preached about three years at Bos 
ton, he was brought to feel that there were many 
evils unreformed in the Church of England ; and 
from that time he became a conscientious Non 
Conformist ; and such was his influence over his 
people, that a greater part of the town embraced 
his views. For this, Mr. Cotton was silenced ; but 
was soon offered, on condition of his conforming, 
not only liberty to preach, but also a high prefer- 



ment. He was not, however, to be tempted to 
violate his conscience by such inducements, but 
stood inflexibly a Non Conformist to the day of his 

Mr. Cotton's standing, influence, power, meek- 
ness and discretion, soon freed hirn from a perse- 
cution, which under other circumstances, would 
have increased. He was restored to the ministry 
by means of the very individual who had com- 
plained of him. The storm of persecution passed 
off, and he was permitted to pursue his labors in 
his own way for some years. During this time, he 
was engaged not in making proselytes to this, or 
that party, but in preaching faithfully, and fer- 
vently the great doctrines of Christianity. 

After an active and signally useful ministry of 
twenty years at Boston, the Demon, Persecution, 
again molested him. He was summoned before 
the High Commissioner's Court ; but knowing if 
he appeared there, the offence of Non Conformity 
would be clearly proved against him, and he im- 
prisoned, he concealed himself from his foes. 
While in this state of concealment, in hope of 
being again pardoned, the Archbishop sent word 
to him, " that if he had been guilty of Drunken- 
ness or Uncleanness or any such Lesser-fault, he 
could have obtained his Pardon ; but inasmuch as 



he had been Guilty of Xon Conformity and Puri- 
tanism, the Crime was unpardonable ; and there- 
fore said lie, ' You must Fly for your Safety' " 
He at once under an assumed name and dress, fled 
with the full purpose of going to Holland. On 
his way his attention was turned to London, and 
thither he went. There he found several distin- 
guished clergymen, who thought the imposed cere- 
monies, indifferent and suflerable trifles. These, 
being sorry that he had left Boston, and that he 
was about to leave his country, proposed a confer- 
ence, to which Mr. Cotton readily consented. 
The debate ended in their full and complete con- 
version to his opinions and practices ; and it gave 
to New England the distinguished men, Dr. Good- 
win, Mr. Nye, and Mr. Davenport, besides leaving 
several acute and accomplished men as Non Con- 
formists in London. 

Mr. Cotton, fearing to remain at London, soon 
took ship to America, where he immediately entered 
upon the great work the Lord had assigned him. 
He was now quiet in the possession of his princi- 
ples, with none to molest or make afraid. Here, 
as pastor of the first church in Boston, he quietly- 
pursued his work, while his fame at every step, 
was heard, and echoed back from the Halis of 
England. In 1641, " some Great Persons in 



England, were intending to have sent over a 
Ship, on purpose to fetch him over, for the sake of 
the Service, that such a Man as He, might then 
Do to the Church of God, then, Travelling in the 
Nation. But although their Doubt of his Willing- 
ness to Remove caused them to forbear that 
Method of obtaining him, yet the Principal Mem- 
bers, in both Houses of Parliament, wrote unto 
him, with an Importunity for his Return into 
England ; which had prevailed with him, if the 
Dismal Showres of Blood, quickly after breaking 
upon the Nation, had not made such Afflictive 
Impressions upon him, as to prevent his purpose. 
He continued, therefore, in Boston, unto his 
Dying Day ; Counting it a great Favour of 
Heaven unto him, that he was Delivered from the 
Unsettledness of Habitation, which was not 
among the least of the Calamities, that Exercised 
the Apostles of our Lord. Nineteen Years and 
odd Months, he spent in this Place, doing of Good 
Publickly and Privately, unto all sorts of men, as it 
became a Good Man full of Faith, and of the 
Holy Ghosts Cotton Mather. 

Eleven years did this eminent servant of God 
labor with his church, and for the good of the 
Colonies, after he refused to return. But now his 
time had arrived. As he was going over to 



Cambridge to preach, he was wet in crossing the 
ferry. An inflammation of the lungs was the re- 
sult, from which he never entirely recovered, 
though he was able, subsequently, to preach twice 
to his people, before he was finally called to his 

While he lay sick, the people — the magis- 
trates — all, came to receive instruction, and a 
blessing from his lips. Among others, that noted 
man, President Dunster, of Cambridge College, 
came, and with tears in his eyes, asked his blessing, 
saying : " J know in my heart, they whom you 
bless, shall be blessed." Just before his death, he 
sent for the Elders of his church, in accordance 
with the Apostolic injunction, to pray over him ; 
and then he exhorted them in the most earnest 
manner, faithfully to feed his flock. He was then 
just ready for his departure, when Mr. Wilson, his 
colleague, coming in to take his leave, expressed 
the wish, that God might lift up the light of his 
countenance upon him, to which he instantly re- 
plied ; " God hath done it already, Brother ! " 
He called for his children, commended them to 
his God, and then desired to be left alone to pre- 
pare for the approaching hour ; and thus, after 
lying speechless a few hours, he was no more, for 
God took him ! 



Mr. Cotton was twice married, and had three 
sons and three daughters. Two sons he left dis- 
tinguished in the ministry, and the third died 
while preparing for that high vocation. He also 
had five grand-sons in that holy calling ; of whom 
the honored Cotton Mather was one. 

He was a great man, an humble Christian, and 
a faithful laborer in his Master's service. He 
preached and wrote, as though he felt it his busi- 
ness to instruct ; doing things worthy to be writ- 
ten, and writing things worthy to be read. So 
great were his labors, and so systematic, that there 
was no text of the whole Bible left unexplained to 
his people. As a public man, he was consulted 
both in church and state ; and on the judgment of 
few men could more implicit reliance be placed. 
His famous work, " The Keys," was the first work 
published upon the Congregational church govern- 
ment ; and was always esteemed as second only 
to the " Platform of Church Discipline/' published 
at Cambridge, in 1648. 

He was a hard student. " Mr. Cotton was in- 
deed a most Universal Scholar, a Living System 
of the Liberal Arts, and a Walking Library" 
While he was a critic in the Greek, he conversed 
in the Latin and Hebrew. As a preacher, he was 
animated, but dignified, learned and profound ; 



never showing himself, but his subject; and his 
humble, diligent, -faithful labors were greatly 

In his personal appearance, " he was of a Clear, 
Fair, Sanguine Compaction, and like David of 
Ruddy Countenance. He was rather Low than 
Tall, and rather Fat than Lean ; but of a Be- 
coming Mediocrity. In his Younger years, his 
Hair was Brown, but in his Latter years, as 
White, as the Driven Snow. In his Countenance 
there was an Inexpressible sort of Majesty, which 
Commanded Reverence from all that approached 
him ; This Cotton was indeed the Cato of his 
Age, for his Gravity, but had a Glory with it 
which Cato had not." Cotton Mather. 

Mr. Cotton's acquaintance was with such men 
as Perkins, Ames, Hiidersham, Dodd, Drs. Preston, 
Twiss and Owen, and Archbishop Williams. 

In his life he was greatly honored, and in his 
death sincerely lamented. He lived a life of re- 
markable usefulness, and died full of the hopes of 
a blessed immortality. 


Rev. Thomas Symmes, of Bradford, Mass., the 
son of Ptev. Zechariah Symmes, the first minister 
of that place, was born at Bradford, February 1st, 



1678. In 1698, he was graduated at Harvard 
College : and was settled over the church in Box- 
ford, December 30th, 1702. He continued in 
charge of that church and people, until 1708; 
when, shortly after his father's death, he was dis- 
missed from the church in Boxford, and immedi- 
ately succeeded to his father's charge in Bradford. 

Mr. Symmes possessed strong powers of mind ; 
which being united with great learning, independ- 
ence, and energy of character, rendered him a 
man of great influence in society. In the pulpit, 
he was animated, popular and faithful ; and his 
exertions for the spiritual welfare of his flock were 
crowned, at various times, with great accessions to 
his church. 

Mr. Symmes's musical writings were of great 
importance at the time they were circulated, and 
not less so at this day, as historical matter. 1 It is 
to be regretted that they had not possessed a 
greater share of the meekness that characterized 
other writers in that discussion. *He seemed to 
have no forbearance with the whims, ignorance, 
and prejudice of the people, and dealt out satirical 

1 He wrote three musical tracts. The first was entitled " The 
Reasonableness of Regular Singing: or Singing by Note ; " 1720. 
The second, "Prejudice in Matters of Religion/' 1722 The third 
" Uteli Dulci: or Joco-Serious Dialogue," 1723. 



argument with a vehemence that showed the 
energy, if not the meekness, of his character. 
After a short, but useful life, he died at Bradford, 
October 6th, 1725, aged forty-eight years. 


Mr. Stoddard was born of a noble family, at 
Boston, Mass., in 1643. In 166*2, he was gradu- 
ated at Cambridge College, where he remained in 
connection with the college about eight years ; and 
subsequently, for two years, he was preaching to 
the dissenters, on the island of Barbadoes. Sep- 
tember 11th, 1672, he was ordained as successor 
to Rev. Eleazer Mather, over the church in North- 
ampton ; where he continued until his death, 
February 11th, 1729, in the eighty-sixth year of 
his age, having been settled over the same people 
fifty-seven years. 

Mr. Stoddard's sermons, theological essays, and 
controversial writings, gave him uncommon distinc- 
tion. He was a learned man, and an acute dispu- 
tant. In the pulpit, he was u plain, experimental, 
searching and argumentative ; " and his labors 
were blessed by a remarkable ingathering of souls. 
Under his ministration, there were five great revi- 
vals of religion. The first, in 1679 ; the second, 
in 1683 ; the third, 1696 ; the fourth, 1712 ; the 


fifth, 1718. In each of these, the people generally 
were greatly concerned for their eternal salvation. 

He entered into the controversy on the subject 
of regular singing, with his accustomed energy. 
For this he wrote, in 1722, one essay, called 
" Cases of Conscience ; " and published one ser- 
mon, " to stir up young men and maidens to praise 
the Lord." Few men of his day held a more com- 
manding influence, or a more unblemished reputa- 


Rev. Peter Thacher, whose name stands con- 
nected with the two Mr. Danforths, in the " Cases 
of Conscience," might have been either of three 
eminent men, of the same name, living at that 
time, in the Massachusetts Colony. Either would 
have been an honor to any party of men that could 
have been brought together. They were men of 
sound minds, great learning, and ardent piety, as 
were all who engaged in the Musical Revolution of 
1720 - 30. If it was Mr. Thacher of Boston, as is 
most* likely, that document was graced with a 
name the colony might be justly proud to own. 

This excellent man, though not wanting in 


learning or genius, was more eminent for the cler- 
gyman's best qualification, piety. In him the 
scholar, the christian, the pastor, and the teacher, 
found a pattern of uncommon perfection. He had 
attained great knowledge in the mathematics, and 
also possessed quite a poetic talent. Mr. Dan forth 
was graduated at Harvard, in 1677; became pas- 
tor of the church in Dorchester, in 166*2, and con- 
tinued in his useful ministry, until May 26th, 
1730, when he fell asleep, and was gathered to his 


Mr. Danforth " was one of the most learned and 
eminent ministers of his day ; " and one of the 
many worthies, whose labors were so greatly 
blessed by the rich outpouring of the Holy Spirit. 
About the year 1705, his church enjoyed a re- 
markable revival of religion, in which the youth 
were converted in great numbers. He was born 
at Roxbury, December, 18th, 1666; was a gradu- 
ate of Harvard, in 1683 ; and died November 
14th, 1727. 


This clergyman, settled in Durham, Ct., was a 
son of the Rev. Israel Chauncey, and grandson of 



Rev. Charles Chauncey, second president of Har- 
vard College. He was educated in Connecticut ; 
and vvas the first person on whom the honors of 
Yale College were conferred. " Through life, he 
was regarded as a man of wisdom and prudence ; 
as a good scholar, and as an able divine." In the 
spring and summer of 1736, Mr. Chauncey's labors 
were attended by a remarkable revival of religion, 
in which there was no small ingaihering of souls. 
His sermons were written and committed to 
memory, so that he used no manuscript when 
preaching. " His elocution was distinct, and his 
address grave and pungent. In his family and 
among his people, in all the relations and duties of 
life, his conduct was such as becomes the GospeL 
After a ministry of almost fifty years, he descended 
to the grave, greatly lamented." 

In the above sketches, we have shown some- 
thing of the character and standing of the men who 
took part in the discussions concerning " Regular 
Singing." Never was a discussion in this country 
conducted by better men, or men of better minds. 
Of all, who either wrote or indorsed the pamphlets 
on that discussion, only four of twenty have not 
found a place among the worthies of New England, 
in the Biographical Dictionaries ; and only one of 



the writers, Mr. Chnuncey of Connecticut, is over- 
looked. They were, generally, clergymen of the 
most enlightened minds and ardent piety. Should 
they be called weak because they were interested 
for the music of the church ? They were the men 
upon whom rested the labor, and the defence of 
the church and her doctrines ; and they have 
rarely rested in better hands. There was Sewall, 
humble, deliberate, cautious, and courageous; 
fearing nothing but sin: And Prince, the learned 
and refined ; the faithful pastor and the able an- 
nalist : And Cooper, the amiable, lovely friend; 
the practical, evangelical, solemn, and eminently 
successful preacher : And Foxcroft, the learned 
divine, the pungent speaker, and the good Christ- 
ian : And Mather, the dignified and accomplished 
gentleman, the patriot and philanthropist, the ripe 
scholar, and the pious and faithful pastor: And 
Walter, the affectionate friend, the profound rea- 
soner, and the eminently pious man : And Wads- 
worth, the wise and prudent citizen, the luminous 
and pathetic preacher : And Coleman, the amiable 
and venerable man ; the graceful and persuasive 
orator, the useful citizen, the friend of man, and 
the child of God. Of these, Dr. Increase Mather 
and Mr. Wadsworth, were revered presidents of 
Harvard College ; and three, Messrs. Joseph 



Sewall, William Cooper, and Benjamin Colman, 
were elected to that office, but did not accept. 
These were the men who lent their influence for 
the cultivation of music ; and with such a prece- 
dent, shall men now fear or feel ashamed to lend 
their influence to improve the songs of Zion ? . Is 
there not a criminal neglect of duty, upon the 
subject, by ministers of the gospel, as well as by 
others ? Let our dignified clergy take a deep and 
abiding interest in our sacred music, and it shall 
no longer fail for want of strength. 



Is England, Mr. Holland has done the noble 
work of snatching the memory of their Psalmists 
from unmerited neglect, by embodying a sketch of 
their life with a specimen of their poetry, in two 
handsome octavo volumes. In this country, no 
one has appeared to pay a similar tribute of re- 
spect to the memory of our Psalmists ; yet, while 
we have not so many, we have those who stand in 
the first place of honor and excellence. Such are 
the translators of the Bay Psalm Book. This in- 
deed is the only work of high reputation that has 
been made in America ; yet we have had several 
others that have held no mean place in this de- 
partment of sacred literature. 

We propose, in imitation of Mr. Holland, to 
give a short sketch of some of our Psalmists, and 
also a specimen of their poetry, so far as we can. 

Before introducing the American Psalmists, we 



will give a brief sketch of the Author of the Man- 
ual of Psalmody, used by the Puritans when they 
came to this country. 


" A very learned man he was, and a close stu- 
dent, which much impaired his health. We have 
heard some, eminent in the knowledge of the 
tongues, of the University of Leyden, say, that 
they thought he had not his better for the Hebrew 
tongue in the University, nor scarce in Europe. 
He was a man, very modest, amiable, and social, 
in his ordinary course and carriage, of an innocent 
and unblameable life and conversation, of a meek 
spirit and a calm temper, void of passion, and not 
easily provoked. And yet he would be something 
smart, in his style to his opposers, in his public 
writings; at which we, that have seen his constant 
carriage, both in public disputes and the manag- 
ing all church affairs, and such like occurrences, 
have sometimes marvelled. He had an excellent 
gift of teaching and opening the Scriptures ; and 
things did flow fiom him with that facility, plain- 
ness and sweetness, as did much affect his hearers. 
He was powerful and profound in doctrine, although 
his voice was not strong ; and had this excellency 
above many, that he was most ready and pregnant 



in the Scriptures, as if the book of God had been 
written in his heart ; being as ready in his quota- 
tions, without tossing or turning his book, as if 
they had laid open before his eyes, and seldom 
missing a word in citing of any place, teaching not 
only the word and doctrine of God, but in the 
words of God, and for the most part in a contin- 
ued phrase and words of Scripture. He used 
great dexterity, and was ready in comparing Scrip- 
ture with Scripture, one with another. In a word, 
the times and place in which he lived were not 
worthy of such a man." 1 

This Rabbi of his age, as he was called, was the 
author of a very learned commentary on the five 
books of Moses, in which he shows himself a 
complete master of the oriental languages, and of 
the Jewish antiquities. For some years, he was 
teacher of the church at Amsterdam. His death 
was sudden, and not without suspicion of vio- 


Amid the excitements and hurry of the present 
age, we are too prone to neglect the memory of 
great and good men of other days, and the lessons 
of wisdom illustrated in their lives. But a few 

1 Young's Chronicles of the Pilgrims. 



scores of years, or even centuries, should not de- 
stroy our interest in their history, especially when 
intimately connected with the youth of our coun- 
try. Yet how seldom are those worthies men- 
tioned, who in the infancy of the American colo- 
nies, laid the foundations of whatever is most 
valuable in our institutions ! Few have been the 
points of time when the church and the world 
were blessed with so many worthy and excellent 
men. Among the number, the subject of this 
brief sketch holds an honored preeminence. 

John Elliot was born in England, in the year 
1604, and died in the Massachusetts colony, in 
1690, aged eighty-six years. Early in life, he was 
brought to a knowledge of the truth as it is in 
Christ, through the instrumentality of the excellent 
Hooker ; and his acquaintance with him, contribu- 
ted not a little to establish, if not to implant, those 
principles of action, that made him such a bright 
and shining light. He was educated in Cambridge 
University, England, and for a time, after leaving 
College, owing to difficulties in the way of Puritan 
clergymen, he was forced to seek employment as 
a schoolmaster. But he acted not long in that 
capacity. Just at that time, the tide of emigration 
was setting towards the new world. Hundreds of 
Puritans were transporting themselves, their fami- 



lies, and interests to this land, then so full of all 
that could fill the most romantic and enterprising 
mind. Here, too, was a field for the most devout 
and active Christian, where he might labor among 
his friends, or for the good of the sons of the 
forest. The devout, burning, enterprising Elliot, 
was not long in determining his course. He 
quickly enrolled himself among the valiant soldiers 
of the cross, and braved the dangers of the ocean, 
to live with those who had gone before, undis- 
turbed, though in a wilderness, and among 

On his arrival, in 1631, he united with the 
church in Boston. Mr. Wilson, the pastor, having 
returned to England to settle his affairs, Mr. Elliot 
officiated during his absence. Upon Mr. Wilson's 
return to this country, the people, having become 
greatly attached to Mr. Elliot, were anxious to set- 
tle him, as Mr. Wilson's colleague. But, having 
promised some of his friends in England, that 
if they would emigrate to this country, he would 
give himself to their service, he refused. In 1632, 
these pious friends came to this country, and chose 
their habitation near Boston, calling it Roxbury. 
Here a church was soon constituted, and Mr. 
Elliot became their pastor, and continued in that 
relation for almost threescore years ! 



No sooner had he settled in his new relation, 
than he began a course of systematic preparation 
for preaching to, and instructing the poor natives, 
and, in a short time, he was enabled to commence 
his labors. His feelings were all alive to their in- 
terests, he had their entire confidence, he labored 
in prayer and faith, and soon saw his labors 
attended with the most pleasing and blessed 

Mr. Elliot was a hard worker. In his labors he 
was persevering, in proportion as they were various 
and pressing. Few men have accomplished more, 
or have toiled in a more unostentatious manner. 
To the important and increasing church at Rox- 
bury, his ministrations were regular and efficient. 
With the Indians he labored day by day, counting 
hunger and cold as nothing. Passing from hut to 
hut, in the driving rain, or burning sun of summer, 
or the sleet and snow of winter ; resting himself 
on the ground by the wigwam fire, and partaking 
of their homely fare, he taught and exhorted, un- 
mindful of his toil and exposure, if thus he might 
reclaim the poor wretches from their demon 

But his study, as well as the field, wood, and 
church, told of his earnest labors for the good of 
others. There he labored, not only to prepare for 



the pulpit and the field, but to speak, by the press, 
to millions who could never hear his voice. And 
in this department, his efforts were great and im- 
portant. Soon after he came to this country, on 
account of his acquaintance with Hebrew, and 
his poetic talent, he was appointed, as one of three, 
to translate the book of Psalms into English metre, 
for the use of the New England churches. This 
important work, with the Rev. Messrs. Mather and 
Weld, he entered upon with great zeal, and ac- 
complished it with remarkable despatch and ability. 
He also translated the whole Bible 1 into the In- 
dian language, and prepared the Psalms in Indian 
verse, to be used as a manual of psalmody in their 
churches. Besides this, he translated several trea- 
tises of practical divinity, catechisms, and school 
books for their use, and wrote several books for 
the colonial churches. 

He had four Indian congregations, to each of 
which he preached once every two weeks, until 
old age disabled him. He was aided in his minis- 
try to the Indians, by native teachers and preach- 
ers, who labored all their time under his super- 
vision and instruction. Beside these, there were, 
at the time of his death, in that part of New 
England, six churches of baptized Indians, and 

1 Mr. Elliot wrote out the whole translation with a single pen. 



eighteen assemblies of catechumens, professing the 
name of Christ. There were also, at that time, 
twenty-four Indian, and four English ministers, 
who preached in the Indian language. Some of 
the Indian ministers were educated at Cambridge, 
and were truly godly and capable teachers. The 
children, as well as adults, committed to memory, 
and had explained to them, either the catechism by 
the famous William Perkins, or that by the West- 
minster Assembly. The latter was entirely memo- 
rized by many of the children. 

In his habits, Mr. Elliot was regular and simple. 
He never indulged his appetite with dainties, or 
inflamed his head with wine. He would lift up 
his hands, and praise God for the variety and rich- 
ness of a feast, but partake of only one plain dish. 
When urged to drink wine, he would exclaim, 
" Wine is a noble, generous liquor, and we should 
be humbly thankful for it, but, as I remember, 
water was made before it." Thus he preserved a 
clear head and strong health for the work that was 
near his heart, and in this he labored unceasingly, 
amid hardships and discouragements, that might 
have borne down a thousand less determined, and 
less trusting the promises of God. 

Elliot was a man of true charity. No object of 
suffering ever met his eye that did not reach his 



heart. He gave away even his necessaries. The 
poor counted him their father, and turned to him 
with filial confidence for relief. Nor was he satis- 
fied with what he could give, but would press his 
neighbors, with the most urgent importunity, to 
join with him in relieving the suffering poor. And 
in this work of love, his wife was a helpmeet in- 
deed. She was a well-educated English lady, and 
had acquired a good knowledge of medicine and 
chirurgery, which enabled them not only to relieve 
the wants of the poor, but their infirmities also. 
Thus they went about, an angel pair, gaining great 
consolation and pleasure by exchanging their 
labors and money for the gratitude of their fellow 
men, and the blessing of their God. 

He was a peace-maker. If he heard one com- 
plain of another, he would say, " Brother, learn the 
meaning of these three little words, Bear, For- 
bear, Forgive." He would almost sacrifice right 
to peace. When there was once laid before him, 
in council, a bundle of papers containing the mat- 
ter of difficulty between some people, he hastily 
threw them all into the fire, and with a glow 
brighter than the flame, exclaimed, "Brethren, 
wonder not at what I have done ; I did it on my 
knees this morning before I came before you." 
Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be 
called the children of God. 



He was a man of fervent and uniform piety ; a 
man of prayer, pure, frequent, fervent prayfer. 
He was constantly in the habit of sending up ejac- 
ulatory petitions. They were his breath and his 
life. By them he bespoke blessings for every per- 
son and affair with which he was connected. His 
days of fasting and prayer were frequent and 
solemn. Always, if he had any great difficulty or 
trouble, he sought relief by a special season, say- 
ing, " If we have any great thing to be accom- 
plished, it is best to work by an engine the world 
sees not." He could say on his death-bed, " I 
thank God I have loved fasting and prayer with all 
my heart." And he not only kept his own heart 
in a prayerful frame, but was continually kindling 
the same hallowed fire in the hearts of others. If 
any important news was told him, he would at 
once propose prayer, that he might pour out his 
gratitude and praise, or humbly seek for mercy. 
As he visited among his people, or acquaintances, 
he would say, " Come, let us not have a visit with- 
out a prayer ; let us pray down the blessing of 
heaven upon your family before we go." In the 
society of ministers he would say, " Brethren, the 
Lord Jesus takes much notice of what is done 
among his ministers when they are together ; come, 
let us pray before we part." He imposed it as a 




law upon himself, that he would leave something 
of religion, of heaven, and of God, upon the minds 
of all with whom he met; hence his presence was 
always revered, and his lips, soon unsealed, like 
Mary's box of ointment, filled the room with a 
precious odor. He was also remarkable for his 
strict observance of the Sabbath. On this subject 
he had no laxness of principle to justify bad prac- 
tices. He made it, not like many in these times, 
a free and easy, or a listless and idle day, but one 
in which he served his God, as vigorously as he 
served the world on week days. His motto was, 
" Bad Sabbaths make bad Christians," and so he 
labored during the Sabbath to obtain an unction 
that should go with him through the week. 

It has been the lot of few men to live a longer 
or a more useful life, than the beloved and re- 
nowned Elliot, and it is rare we find one so in- 
dustrious, so vigorous, so great, and so unpretend- 
ing. His was a life of self-denial and toil — of 
patience and humility. With great success, and 
influence undated — with great trials and diffi- 
culties, not discouraged, he pursued his plans with 
his eye steadily fixed upon the good of his fellow 
men and the glory of God, unmindful of the smiles 
or the frowns of men ; " like ships at sea, while in, 
above the world. " 



As he drew near to the time of his departure, 
he was much in conversation with his friends 
about the great change. But there was no fear, or 
but one, which was truly pleasing and beautiful. 
He had two dear friends long passed into heaven 
before him — his old neighbors, Cotton, of Boston, 
and Mather, of Dorchester — these he often feared 
would wait for him, and conclude " he had gone 
the wrong way." He had no other fear. He had 
" fought the good fight " — he had " finished " his 
" course." Just before he was taken from the 
world, a friend, Rev. Nehemiah Walter, his col- 
league, coming in to see him, he said, " Brother, 
thou art welcome to my soul. Pray, retire to my 
study for me, and give me leave to be gone." 
Being fully aware that he was then about to enter 
upon his eternal rest, he exclaimed, " Welcome 
joy," and, in true keeping with his life, turned to 
his friends, and breathed, with his last breath, the 
exhortation, " Pray, Pray, PRAY ! " 

We can select no part of the Bay Psalms and 
say, " Mr. Elliot translated this," as can be done 
with Sternhold and Hopkins, or with Clement 
Marot and Theodor De Beza's versions ; and we 
regret that the portions translated by each, have 
not been recorded. We will therefore introduce 



the biographical sketches of the individuals, and 
refer the reader to the examples already given. 


M Thomas Welde, first minister of Roxbury, 
Mass., a native of England, was a minister in 
Essex before he came to this country. Refusing 
to comply with the impositions of the established 
church, he determined to seek the quiet enjoy- 
ment of the rights of conscience, in America. He 
arrived at Boston, June 5th, 163*2, and in July 
was invested with the pastoral care of the church 
in Roxbury. In November following, he received 
John Elliot as his colleague. In 1639, he assisted 
Mr. Mather and Mr. Elliot, in making the New 
England version of the Psalms. In 1641, he was 
sent with Hugh Peters to England, as an agent for 
the province, and he never returned. He was set- 
tled at Gateshead, but was ejected in 1660, and 
died in the same year. He published a short story 
of the rise, reign, and ruin of the antinomians, 
familists, and libertines, that infected the churches 
of New England, 4to. 1644 ; 2d ed. 1692 ; an 
answer to W. R.'s narration of the opinions and 
practices of the New England churches, vindica- 
ting those godly and orthodoxical churches from 
more than one hundred imputations, &c. 1644. 



With others he wrote the perfect pharisee under 
monkish holiness, against the quakers, 1654." 
Allen's Biog. and Hist. Dictionary. 
For specimens of his poetry, see selections from 
the Bay Psalm Book. 


Mr. Mather was born in Lancashire, England, 
in 1596. At the age of fifteen, he became a 
teacher at Toxteth, near Liverpool. At the age of 
twenty-two, he was admitted as a student at 
Oxford ; but in a few months he left, was ordained 
by the bishop of Chester, and became the minister 
of Toxteth. Here he remained, abundant in labor, 
until 16J3, when he was silenced for non-conform- 
ity, but was soon restored, and suspended again in 
1634. In May, 1635, eagerly pursued by the 
English emissaries, he embarked at Bristol, and 
arrived at Boston, New England, on the 17th day 
of August. In just one year, he was settled over 
the church in Dorchester, where he spent his re- 
maining days. He died the death of the right- 
eous, April 22d, 1669. 

Mr. Mather wrote much, and wrote well. In 
1640, he assisted Mr. Elliot and Mr. Welde in 
making the New England version of the psalms. 
The Platform of Church Discipline, published at 



Cambridge, in 1648, was written mostly by him. 
Besides these, he wrote many other works for 
which, see Allen's or Elliot's American Biography. 

See specimens of poetry from the Bay Psalm 

We introduce here a brief notice of President 
Dunster, who, in connection with Mr. Lyon, re- 
vised that work, which was more used than any 
one of its time. We are sorry that we can say 
no more of Mr. Lyon. 


" Henry Dunster, first president of Harvard 
College, was inducted into this office, August 27th, 
1640. He succeeded Nathaniel Eaton, who was 
first master of the seminary, being chosen in 1637 
or 1638, and who had been removed on account 
of the severity of his discipline. He was highly 
respected for his learning, piety, and spirit of gov- 
ernment ; but, having at length imbibed the prin- 
ciples of antipedobaptism, and publicly advocated 
them, he was induced to resign the presidentship, 
October 24th, 1654, and was succeeded by Mr. 
Chauncey. He now retired to Scituate, where he 
spent the remainder of his days in peace. He 
died on February 27th, 1659. He was a modest, 




humble, charitable man. By his last will, he 
ordered his body to be buried at Cambridge, and 
bequeathed legacies to the very persons who had 
occasioned his removal from the college. He was 
a great master of the oriental languages, and when 
a new version of the psalms had been made by 
Elliot, Welde, and Mather, and printed in 1640, it 
was put into his hands to be revised. He accord- 
ingly, with the assistance of Richard Lyon, im- 
proved the version, and brought it into that state, 
in which the churches of New England used it for 
many subsequent years." 

Allen's Biog. and Hist. Bid. 
For poetry, see Bay Psalms Revised. 


" Experience Mayhew, minister on Martha's 
Vineyard, the eldest son of the Rev. John May- 
hew, pastor of the same church, was born January 
27th, 1673. In March, 1694, about five years 
after the death of his father, he began to preach to 
the Indians, taking the oversight of five or six of 
their assemblies. The Indian language had been 
familiar to him from infancy, and he was employed 
by the commissioners of the society for propagating 
the gospel in New England, to make a new version 
of the Psalms and of John, which work he execu- 



ted with great accuracy, in 1709. He died 
November 29th, 1758, aged eighty-five." 

Allen's Biog. and Hist. Vict. 

COTTON MATHER, D. D., F. R. S., &c. &c. 

Few men have gained a more desirable reputa- 
tion than this eminent scholar and Christian. He 
was born at Boston, February i2th, 1663. His 
youth was remarkable for piety and usefulness. 
At the early age of fifteen, he was graduated at 
Harvard College ; and even then, he had distin- 
guished himself as a scholar. At the age of seven- 
teen, he united with his father's church ; and at 
twenty-one, was ordained as colleague with his 
father, over the North Church in Boston. In this 
office he spent his life, seeking the good of his 
fellow men. 

Dr. Mather was remarkable for his learning — 
his industry — his expansive benevolence, and his 
devoted piety. Perhaps no man of his day, had 
read and retained more of the history, literature 
and science of our own, and foreign countries. 
His habits were the very economy of time. So 
saving was he, that he placed the words " Be 
Short/' in capitals, over the door of his study, for 
every visiter to read. Every morning he arranged 
the duties of the day, and always devised some 



method of doing good to some one ; and then his 
untiring industry saw it executed. His piety was 
that active principle, which stimulated him to seek 
more the good of others than his own. In his de- 
votion he was regular and severe ; often fasting 
and keeping vigils. As a minister, he was devoted 
to his calling, and exemplary beyond the reach of 
impious calumny ; and his energy and faithfulness 
were abundantly blessed. 

Dr. Mather was the most voluminous writer in 
the colonies. His writings are peculiar in their 
style, and valuable for their veracity and point, in 
matters of history. His publications amounted in 
all to three hundred and eighty-two ; and several 
of these were large works, though most were ser- 
mons and small pamphlets. Many have con- 
demned his writings, as being full of bigotry and 
superstition. As regards his bigotry, it should only 
receive the name of firm adherence to his religious 
belief; and his superstition, was no more than all 
men at that day, both in the colonies and in 
England, were found to possess. He lived a life 
of devoted piety, and died February 13th, 1728, 
in the full assurance of a happy immortality. 

For poetry, see Psalterium Americanum. 




This eminent and justly celebrated man, was 
born at Boston, Mass., November 6th, 1681. 
Like most of those who have shone in the church, 
he was blessed with pious parents, who had a spe- 
cial care over his early education. He graduated 
at Harvard College, in 1700, aged nineteen years. 
During the early part of his college course, the 
death of two young friends, caused him to think of 
his own danger, while living thoughtless, and un- 
prepared to exchange worlds. These impressions, 
though short, were soon followed by others, that 
w r ere lasting as life. Two years after he left col- 
lege, he joined the church under the charge of Dr. 
Increase Mather, and during the same year began 
to preach. 

In 1707, he was appointed by Governor Dudley 
one of the chaplains to attend the army against 
Port Royal. In 1709, he sailed for Barbadoes and 
London. In the latter place, he became ac- 
quainted with some of the famous dissenting min- 
isters, and also received several advantageous 
offers to settle there. But these he refused, 
choosing rather to return to his own native 
land. His reputation, while in England, was 
truly great. 



In 1714, May 23d, he preached the dedication 
sermon of the " New North Church," in Boston, 
which had been built expressly for him ; but 
though, at this time, he was expecting soon to be 
ordained, another person was chosen, and became 
pastor of the church. At this movement, Mr. 
Barnard was greatly displeased. But the Lord had 
work for him in another place. 

In 1716, July 18th, he was ordained as col- 
league with the Rev. Mr. Cheever, then pastor of 
the church at Marblehead. In this relation, after 
his settlement, he remained in great harmony with 
Mr. Cheever, until that good man's death. 
Seldom do we find a man either so long, or so 
useful in the ministry — a public preacher sixty- 
eight years ; and fifty -four, a settled pastor over 
the same people. 

Mr. Barnard was a man of great influence, both 
in church and state. In his own parish, he was 
constantly laboring for the good of his people ; for 
their temporal as well as their spiritual concerns. 
It was he, that first taught the people of Marble- 
head that source of profit, which has since been to 
them so important ; " the mystery of the fish 
trade.' 5 

Among the clergy of his day, he was famous for 
his learning, character and piety ; and his very 



great age, and worth of character, gave him a 
patriarch's sway. 

" His form was remarkably erect ; and he never 
bent, even under the imfirmities of eighty and 
eight years. His countenance was grand, his 
mien majestic, and there was dignity in his whole 
deportment. His presence restrained the impru- 
dence and folly of youth, and when the aged saw 
him they stood up." 

He was kind-hearted and benevolent ; seeking 
to do good. In his charities, he was often silent, 
that the poor might rather return thanks to God, 
than to him. He was a great friend to education ; 
and generally supported two poor boys at school ; 
thus training others to do good. 

Mr. Barnard was an humble Christian. In his 
last sickness, he weeping said ; " My very soul 
bleeds when I remember my sins ; but 1 trust I 
have sincerely repented, and that God will* accept 
me for Christ's sake. His righteousness is my 
only dependence.'' 

He died January 24th, 1770, in the eighty-ninth 
year of his age. 

The following Psalms are given as a specimen 
of Mr, Barnard's versification. 



Psalm I. First Book. 

Thrice blest the man, who ne'er thinks fit 
To walk as wicked men advise ; 
To stand in sinner's Way, nor sit 
With those who God, and Man, despise. 

2. Whose pious soul directs his Way 
By sacred Writ his sweet Delight 
Thro' all the Labours of the Day ; 
And meditates thereon by Night. 

3. As planted Trees by Rivers Sides 
Yield timely fruit a vast Encrease; 
So in first Verdure he abides 

And God his Handy work will bless. 

4. But those that spurn at sacred Laws, 
Shall no such Favor with him find ; 

For God will blast them, and their cause. 
And whirl as chaff before the Wind. 

5. However in the Judgment Day 

The Wicked shall not stand the Light ; 
Mix with the righteous shall not they 
Nor any formal Hypocrite. 

6. The Lord who now with pleasure views, 
Will then applaud the just man's Way ; 
But who his Name and Word abuse, 
Shall feel his Wrath and melt away. 



Psalm cxxxiv. 

Lo : all ye Servants of the Lord, 
Who nightly stand and wait, 
Attending in his sacred House, 
Jehovah celebrate. 

2. Bless ye the Lord, lift up your Hands 
Within his holy P'ace 

The Lord, who Heaven and Earth hath made, 
Thee out of Sion bless. 


Thomas, son of Samuel Prince, of Sandwich, 
was born May 15th, 1687. In the autumn of 
1707, he was graduated at Harvard College ; and 
having finished his professional studies, he sailed 
for England, in 1709. There he remained, 
preaching at Combs, in Suffolk, for some years, 
and was earnestly requested to remain ; but his 
attachment to his native land, induced him to re- 
fuse their solicitations, and to return to his friends 
and his home. Here, in colleague with Dr. Sewell, 
he became the pastor of the Old South Church, in 
Boston, July, 1717; and in this situation he re- 
mained until his death, October 22d, 1758. 

Mr. Prince's literary character and works were 
great. Few men of his day, held a more enviable 
distinction. Dr. Chauncey — and no man was 



better capable of judging — placed him second in 
learning only to Dr. Cotton Mather. He possessed 
a fine native genius, which he improved by diligent 
study, and polished by extensive acquaintance and 
intercourse with mankind. 

His literary writings were important. While 
yet a member of College, he began collecting his- 
torical matter, relating to the civil and religious 
history of New England, and continued this work 
until his death. These manuscripts, with a valua- 
ble collection of books, were left to the church of 
which he was pastor. The books are still pre- 
served by the Massachusetts Historical Society ; 
but the manuscripts were destroyed by the British 
while they occupied Boston. He published many 
occasional sermons ; but his two principal works, 
were his chronological history of New England, 
in ] 736, and the Bay Psalm Book, rewritten, in 

In private life, he was polite, amiable, and truly 
exemplary. As a Christian, he was meek, humble, 
and submissive ; ever ready to forgive injuries and 
return good for evil. He was an eminent preacher, 
and inculcated the doctrines and duties of Christ- 
ianity, as one who felt and practised them. When 
Mr. Whitfield visited Boston, Mr. Prince gave 
him a warm reception, assisted him in his work, 


and was ever an ardent friend to the revival of 
pure, evangelical religion. His was a life of use- 
fulness and piety ; and at his death, he enjoyed 
the peaceful consolations of an unwavering hope of 
a blessed immortality. 

Psalm L 

Blessed man who walks not in 

The counsel of ill 1 men. 
Nor stands within the sinner's way 

nor scoffer's 2 seat sets in. 

2. But on JEHOVAH'S written law 

he places his delight ; 
And in his law he meditates 
with pleasure day and night. 

3. For he is like a goodly tree 

to rivers planted near ; 
Which timely yields its fruit whose leaf 

shall ever green appear 
And all he does shall prosper still. 3 

1 111, rather than wicked, seems more suitable for the lowest step 
of the treble and beautiful gradation here observed by the Learned. 

2 The Hebrew signifies scoffers ; and so the Chaldee, Syriack and 
Arabick ; i. e., such as scoff at the religion inspired by God, or at 
those who practice it. . 

3 i. e., continually, as is plainly implied, to comport with the 
sense of the preceding part of the verse. 


4. Th' ungodly are not so ; 

But like the chaff which by the wind 
is driven to and fro. 

5. Therefore in judgment shall not stand 

such as ungodly are, 
Nor in the assembly of the just 
shall sinful men appear. 

6. Because the way of righteous men 

the Lord approves and knows ; 
Whereas the way of evil men 
to sure destruction goes. 

Psalm xxiii. 

1. The LORD himself my shepherd is, 

want therefore shall not I ; 

2. He in the folds 1 of tender grass 

soft makes me down to lie ; 
He leads me to the waters still : 

3. Restore my soul does He : 

In paths of righteousness He will 
for his name sake lead me. 

4. Tho' in death's gloomy vale I walk, 

yet I will fear no ill : 
For thou art with me, and thy rod 
and staff me comfort will. 

5. Thou hast for me a table spread 

in presence of my foes ; 
Thou dost my head with oil anoint 
and my cup overflows, 

1 i. e.j Enclosures for flocks of sheep. 



6. Goodness and mercy all my days 
shall surely follow me 
And in the LORD'S house I shall dwell 
as long as days 1 shall be. 


The following notice of Mr. Davis, was prepared 
for the author by Judge Foster, of Millville, N. J. 

" The Rev. Abijah Davis was born in the town- 
ship of Deerfield, Cumberland County, N. J., 
A. D. 1763. His father, Arthur Davis, was a re- 
spectable farmer, and a deacon in the Deerfield 
church. Abijah was the youngest of five brothers. 
He became a member of the church where his 
father belonged, at the age of about sixteen years. 
At twenty-one, he married, and received from his 
father a small farm, which he soon sold, and com- 
menced his education in the college of Philadel- 
phia, with the determination of becoming a minis- 
ter of the gospel. After leaving the college, he 
completed his theological studies with the Rev. 
Robert Smith, of Pequa, Pa. ; was licensed by the 
Philadelphia presbytery, and soon after settled at 
Cold Spring, Cape May, about the year 1790. At 
this place he continued to labor, until the year 
1800, when he removed to Millville, and there re 

1 So the Hebrew and all the ancient versions. 



mained until his death, in August, 1817, in the 
fifty-fourth year of his age. 

" He was acknowledged by his brethren to be a 
man of strong mind, and orthodox in sentiment. 
In conversation, he was generally reserved, and 
somewhat given to melancholy. His most pleasing 
theme seemed to be, the scripture prophecies, on 
which subject he preached several sermons that 
were well approved." 

Mr. Davis's principal literary work, was his ver- 
sion of the psalms. 1 " He was not sixteen years 
of age, when he formed the resolution, that at forty 
he would begin " the version of the psalms ; and 
" when the time of life came, he without delay set 
about the work." He was engaged upon this work 
ten years ; ten years of lost labor, unless it was for 
his own personal good. The work had Watts for 
its pattern ; and some parts he varied and ampli- 
fied, drawing one stanza of that admirable work 
into two. With slight alteration, whole psalms are 
copied; and lines, verbatim, without number. It 
is not a little strange, as Watts's version must 
have been well known in the community, and as 

1 The work had the following title: " An American Version of the 
Psalms of David: suited to the state of the Church in the present 
age of the world. By Abijah Davis ; Minister of the Gospel at Mill- 
ville, New Jersey." 


•2 17 

Mr. Davis copied from him so freely, that he has 
not even mentioned him in his preface. Indeed, 
he calls his work "a new song;''* and further: 
<• In executing this work, the plan was to give a 
free translation of the Psalms, making them the 
ground work of the new song, preserving the 
leading ideas and metaphors, but varying the ex- 
pression to suit the circumstances of the church in 

this present age of the world It is enough 

for me, therefore, and it ought to satisfy every un- 
prejudiced Christian, if in this work, 1 have kept 
as near as I could to the inspired model, without 
running into a jingle of words." 

We will here give two or three specimens of his 
work ; and we are sorry that we cannot give at 
least one, that is purely his own. But we cannot. 
The whole work is made from Watts. 

The first we select, is the 146th psalm. This is 
a fair specimen of the style in which he has treated 
many of Watts's best composures. 

Psalm 14G. 

1. I'll praise my Maker with my breath, 
And when my voice is lost in death, 

Praise shall my nobler powers employ; 
My days of praise shall ne'er be past, 
While life and thought and being last 

In yonder world of heavenly joy. 



2. Why should I make a man my trust? 
Princes must die and turn to dust, 

Vain is the power of kings to save ; 
Their breath departs, and in a day, 
Their thoughts forever pass away, 

And perish with them in the grave. 

3. Happy the man whose hopes rely 
On Israel's God ; he made the sky, 

And earth and seas, with all their train ; 
The Lord is glorious in his deeds, 
He saves th' opprest, the poor he feeds, 

And none shall find his promise vain. 

4. The Lord to sight restores the blind ; 
The Lord supports the sinking mind ; 

He soothes the saint when bowed with grief; 
He sets the prisoner loose, the exiled, 
The widow and the friendless child, 

Look up to God and find relief. 

5. He loves his saints, he knows them well, 
But turns the wicked down to hell, 

Thy God, Zion, ever reigns ; 
Let men of every tongue and age, 
In this exalted work engage, 

Praise him in everlesting strains. 

6. I'll praise him while he lends me breath, 
And when my voice is lost in death, 

Praise shall my nobler powers employ ; 
My days of praise shall ne'er be past, 
While life and thought and being last, 

In yonder world of heavenly joy. 



The following psalm is probably as far removed 
from a servile imitation, as any one we have 
noticed in the work. 

Psalm 41. 

1. Blest is the man whose tender hreast, 

Has for the suffering- mourner felt, 
And while his hand relieves th' opprest, 
He feels his soul with pity melt. 

2. His heart contrives for their relief, 

More good than thousands could perform, 
This man in times of general grief, 
Shall find a shelter from the storm. 

3. The Lord shall keep his soul alive, 

Long shall he live the blest of earth, 
And like a plant celestial thrive. 
Amid the pestilence and dearth. 

4. When sick, the Lord shall stir his bed, 

And make the hard affliction soft, 
Shall raise and cheer his drooping head, 
Or bear his willing soul aloft. 

In 1785, Joel Barlow published his revised edi- 
tion of Watts's Psalms ; in which he supplied several 
that Watts had omitted ; and added several origi- 
nal hymns. As this was recommended by the 



General Association of Connecticut, it was used 
quite extensively. 

In 1799, a work was published, entitled, 
" Hymns composed on various subjects, by James 
Hart, Elizabethtown, N. J. We are not ac- 
quainted with this work ; nor do we know how 
much, or whether it was ever used. 

In 1800, President D wight, revised and pub- 
lished Watts's Psalms ; to which he added thirty- 
three of his own composition. This work was 
widely circulated. 

Since the year 1800, there have been several 
writers of psalms and hymns ; so many, that we 
are unable even to give a complete list. Among 
these works are : " The Book of Psalms : Trans- 
lated into English verse. By George Burgess, 
A. M. New York, 1840 ; " and " Specimens of 
an Improved Metrical Version of the Psalms of 
David. Intended for the use of the Presbyterian 
church in Australia and New Zealand. By John 
Dunmore Lang, D. D. Philadelphia, 1840. 


Accomplished Singer, 105. 
Admonition to the Reader, 21. 
Ainsworth, Rev. Henry, 220. 
u m 14 y er . 

sion, 13. 
American Psalmists, 219. 
Anecdote of Charles I., 60. 

Bad Singing, 147. 
Barnard, Rev. John, 237. 
Barnard. Rev. J., Psalms, 157. 
Bay Psalm Book, 19, 30, 50. 
" " lt Poetry of, 22. 

" " " Improved, 25. 
Bay Psalm Book Improved, 

Poetry of, 27. 
Bay Psalm Book, Republished 

in Scotland, 26. 
Bay Fsalm Book, first used at 

Salem, 53. 
Bay Psalm Book, first used at 

Ipswich, 53. 
Bay Psalm Book, first used at 

Plymouth, 54. 
Bay Psalm Book Revised, 158. 
Bayley's Book, 164. 
Billings's First Book, 166. 
Bromfield, Edward, Jr., 152. 

Cases of Conscience, 87. 
Chauncey, Rev. N. 215. 

" " Sermon, 123. 

Choirs, origin of, 179 
Church Discipline, extract, 79. 
Clergy, Puritan, 19. 

Clerical Influence, 142. 
Controversy among Dissent- 
ers, 34. 
Cotton, Rev. John, 202. 

" " " Tract, 35. 

Danforth, Rev. John, 214. 
" " Samuel, 215. 

Davis, Rev. Abijah, 245. 

Different opinions concerning 
singing, 33. 

Directions for setting the 
Psalm, 58. 

Dunster, President H., 20, 233. 

D wight and Wightmari's Es- 
says, 122. 

Edwards on Revivals, 138. 
Elliot, John, 20, 221. 

" " Indian Version, 55. 

First American Organ, 152. 

" Singing Schools, 139. 
Flagg's Book, 161. 

Hedge's Sermon, 190. 

Indian Psalms, 55. 

11 Singing, 56. 
Influence of Music upon Re- 
ligion, 90. 

Lining out the Psalm, 184. 
« " " " discon- 
tinued, 199. 



List of books, 170. 
Luther, 10. 

Lyon's Anthem Book, 159. 

Mather, Cotton, 235. 

" " extract, 79. 

" Rev. R., 20, 232. 
Mayhew, Rev. E., 234. 
Manner of Singing, 7S. 
Metrical Psalmody, 10. 
Music a College Study, 50, 


Music first printed, 56. 

c< not cultivated, 82. 

" Improved, 137. 

" held sacred, 144. 

" in use, 145. 
Musical directions, 58. 

" tracts, 143. 

New England Courant, ex- 
tract, 89. 
New England Psalm Singer, 

New Tunes, 113. 

Origin of Metrical Psalmody, 

Origin of Choirs, 179. 
Opposition to the Bay Psalms, 

Pacificatory Letter, 114. 

Prejudice in Matters of Reli- 
gion, 112. 

Prince, Rev. Thomas, 12, 241. 

Puritan Manual, 11. 
" Clergy, 19. 
" Psalmody, 48. 
" Custom, 186. 

Poetry from Ainsworth, 14. 

Psalmists, 219. 

Psalterium Americanum, 68. 

Ravenscroft's Collection, 52. 
Remarks upon the Bay 

Psalms, 30. 
Regular Singing, 90. 
Reverence for Music, 77. 

Reform and Reformers, 85. 

" where begun, 142. 
Reformers, 202, 216. 

Secomb's Sermon, 150. 
Singing, 113. 

Schools, 103, 139. 
" in Indian Churches, 

Shepard, Rev. Mr., 20. 
Specimens from Ainsworth, 

Specimens from Bay Psalms, 

Specimens from Bay Psalms 

Improved, 27. 
Specimens from Barnard, 240. 
" 11 Davis, 247. 

" 11 Indian Poe- 

try, 55. 

Specimens from Prince, 243. 
" " Psalterium 

Americanum, 70. 

Specimens from Stemhold and 
Hopkins, 61. 

Stemhold and Hopkins's ver- 
sion, 60. 

Stoddard, Rev. Solomon, 213. 

Symmes, Rev. Thomas, 211. 
" Essay, 91. 

Tate and Brady, 156. 
Tedious Singing, 149. 
Thacher, Rev. Peter, 214. 
Thomas's History of Printing, 

Tufts's Singing Books, 65. 
Tunes metamorphosed, 148. 

Urania, or Lyon's Anthem 
Book, 159. 

Walter's Singing Book, 74. 

" Introduction, 145. 
Watts's Psalms, 154. 

" Extract, 187. 
Weide, Rev. Mr. 20, 231. 
Wightman's Essay, 122. 


Boston, December, 1845. 

Mr. George Hood, 

Dear Sir — I hope you will proceed to publish your 
"History of -Music in New England, some parts of which, in 
manuscript, you some time since submitted to my inspection, 
and, from the very cursory view of it I then had, I thought it 
would be a work of some general interest, and to many 
readers indeed very acceptable. It would afford, I think, not 
only to the musical, but to the religious community, both in- 
terest and instruction, and as a mere historical tract, could 
not fail to engage the attention of the public. 

Your obedient servant, 

Nahum Mitchell. 

Boston, December, 1S45. 

Mr. George Hood, 

Dear Sir — I have read your History of Music in New 
England with great pleasure. In it are brought together 
many facts in relation to the early psalmody of New 


England, which must be alike new and interesting to the 
present generation. I can most cordially and unreservedly 
recommend the work, as well worthy the attention of all who 
feel an interest in the cause of church music, or who reverence 
the character of the Pilgrim Fathers. I sincerely think it de- 
serves, and hope it may receive an extensive patronage. 

Very truly yours, 

Lowell Mason. 

Boston, December 22d, 1845. 
Messrs. Wilkins, Carter & Co. 

Gentlemen — I have read with much satisfaction Mr. 
Hood's little work, entitled " History of Music in New 
England." It furnishes a brief, though at the same time a 
vivid sketch of the state and gradual progress of church 
music during the last century. Considered in the light of a 
mere history, it is highly interesting and useful. Its intrinsic 
value, however, consists in its being a medium to us of many 
excellent admonitions and teachings of great and good men 
of a former generation, on the uses and abuses of church 
music. In this point of view the work can scarcely be over- 
estimated. George J. Webb. 

Boston, December, 1845. 

Mr. George Hood, 

Dear Sir — Having examined the proof sheets of " The 
History of Music in New England," it is with much pleasure 
that I commend it to the notice of all interested in music. 
No work has heretofore existed, from which a correct idea of 
the condition of music in this country, even at the commence- 


ment of the present century, could be obtained ; but in this 
work we have a minute history, back to the time of the land- 
ing of the pilgrims. 

I can hardly express the interest I have felt in perusing it. 
Those especially who have to do with church music, will find 
its contents not only interesting, but highly instructive. 

I am, &c. 

A. N. Johnson.